Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Mirren Hogan

When I asked Author Mirren Hogan what she likes best around writing, she replied,  “What can I say, writing keeps me sane!”  Now that is a sentence most writers can relate to!  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Mirren HoganMy name is Mirren Hogan. I live on the NSW south coast, Australia. I have a dog, cat, rabbits, chickens and too many parrots to count. For relaxation, I walk the dog in the forest behind our house.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing ever since primary school. At first it was just in my head, usually at night, but eventually, I started to put things down on paper. The invention of the word processor and computer helped push things along a little bit too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I didn’t consider myself an author until my first book came out last October, in spite of several short stories having been published before that.

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

There are so many current books, but I’ll focus on the first one, Crimson Fire. It’s a fantasy set in a world based on Africa. The main character is a young woman named Tabia who is sold into slavery to pay her father’s debts. She discovers that she has the innate ability to use magic, and her new mistress lets her train to use it correctly because it’ll increase her value and usefulness. Tabia is caught up in a savage coup and sent far from her home country. She struggles to find safety, security, and freedom.

What inspired you to write this book?

Initially, it was the glut of euro-centric fantasy in the market at the time. I love that kind of fantasy, but there’s a world of unique cultures (literally) out there which would make interesting settings or inspiration. I like to look at what others have done and do something different.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think most readers who describe is as loose and easy to read. I’m not out to write literary classics, I’ll leave those to other writers. I prefer to write work which is more inclusive and available to readers of all levels, which can be enjoyed in a relaxed way.

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

The book had several titles during the writing and editing process, but I wasn’t happy with any of them. I scanned the text for something eye catching literally as I was preparing the submission for the publisher, knowing they’d change it if they didn’t like it. It stuck.

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

I can’t say that I deliberately put in a message, but the main character is lesbian, and has dark skin. The book isn’t ABOUT either of these things, those are just aspects of Tabia. I’d like readers to see HER first and the rest afterward, because that’s how I believe all people should be viewed.

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

There are aspects of Tabia’s insecurities which certainly come from me. Also, her desire to read, read, read, and learn are from me!

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

Jennifer Fallon and Anne McCaffrey mostly. They have female characters who kick ass, but their work is unique. I love unique. Being different has always been something I strive for. If something was trendy, I never wanted it. Life is too short to be a clone!

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

Every writer is a mentor. Every book I’ve ever read or didn’t finish reading gave me insight into how to be a better writer and storyteller. What not to do is just as important as what to do.

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

The amazing Druscilla Morgan. She designed the cover for an anthology I edited for Plan Australia, called Like a Girl. Her work is phenomenal.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Read, read, read. Think about what you liked or didn’t like about a story, it’ll tell you a lot about your strengths as a writer and the direction you’d like to go. Also, don’t be stuck worrying about genre. Write the story, figure the rest out later, and make your characters interested and flawed. Flaws are your friend.

Crimson Fire Book CoverMirren Hogan
Batemans Bay NSW, Australia

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Crimson Fire

Cover Artist: Druscilla Morgan

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Author Interview: E. A. Hennessy.

As a writer, E.A. Hennessy tends to focus on two main things: exploring the personalities and relationships of her characters, and sending them on exciting adventures. All the things you would wish in a fantasy author.  Please welcome Liz to No Wasted Ink.

Author Liz HennessyMy name is Liz and I publish under the name E. A. Hennessy. By day I work as an environmental engineer, and by night I’m a dancer and a writer! I love to balance my very technical job with creative pursuits. Writing has been a necessary part of my life since I was a kid, and I’m excited to share my stories with the world.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. I always had an active imagination, and loved coming up with fictional versions (from aliens to elves!) of myself and my friends. I wrote about our imagined adventures.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I always considered myself a writer. My thinking has always been: I write, therefore I’m a writer!

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

My debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget, is Book 1 of my Gaslight Frontier Series (Book 2 is in the works!). The story follows Zoya and her friends from the bitter, hostile nation of Morozhia who set out to start a better life. On the way to their new home, they’re kidnapped by pirates. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.

What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing the first iteration of this novel over 10 years ago, when I was going through a pirate-obsession phase. The original story involved time travel, and a necklace instead of a gadget, but the plot and characters were otherwise very similar.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a very conversational way. I love writing dialogue, as it seems to be what comes most naturally to me. I also like to keep some levity in the story, to balance out when a scene gets a little dark.

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

I knew I wanted the word “gadget” in the title. I also tend to gravitate toward alliteration. The name Grigory, which is the Russian form of Gregory, jumped out at me. I felt the combination of “Grigory” and “Gadget” set the tone for the setting of my story: a Russian-inspired steampunk world.

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

There is a strong theme of friendship and loyalty throughout the novel. I would say the main message is to seek out those true friends who deserve your loyalty, and not to be fooled by false friends.

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

Some characters were originally based on friends of mine, though I have taken many liberties since their original creation. There are also a couple scenes inspired by stories I’ve heard, such as my high school Russian teacher’s story about how she narrowly escaped the Soviet Union as it collapsed in the early 1990s and her experiences upon arriving in the United States as a refugee.

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

I had to think about this question a lot, and feel like I might be cheating a bit with my answer. A lot of authors have had a huge influence on my writing, but what about my life overall? I think that honor would have to go to story collectors and anthropologists! I’ve always loved mythology, and learning about different mythologies from around the world definitely influenced my worldview. I also used to read a Grimm’s fairy tale every night before bed (no wonder I tend to have weird dreams!).

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

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of writers who have influenced my writing. I have to acknowledge R. L. Stine and his Goosebumps books, because reading those books lead to my passion for reading and, by association, writing stories. As for my current writing style, I would say it is most influenced by Clive Barker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gail Carriger (odd combination, I know!). I love Barker’s vivid descriptions, Vonnegut’s humor and satire, and Carriger’s overall take on the steampunk genre.

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

My cover was designed by Deranged Doctor Design. I shopped around a lot, and the covers by DDD really impressed me. They have a great range, and every cover is gorgeously done. They also have straightforward and affordable pricing, which is great for a self-published author like me.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t let yourself get discouraged – I know that’s easier said than done! Remember that you are your own worst critic, and that a first draft will always be far from perfect. Don’t let these things stop you from writing!

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

As a first-time, self-published author, I am so grateful for the support I’ve received so far! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this crazy writing adventure, and I hope you enjoy my stories!

Grigorys Gadget Book CoverE. A. Hennessy
Buffalo, NY

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Grigory’s Gadget

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design 
Emerald Owl Publications

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Author Interview: Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown live and write in rural Georgia. Together, they are the writing team known as Dragon Authors, writing fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. Please welcome them both to No Wasted Ink.

Author Erin Michelle SkyWe are Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown. We live in rural Georgia on a couple of small farms, we both love writing, and neither one of us can resist a good story! Together, we are the writing team known as Dragon Authors, writing fantasy and science fiction novels for teens and adults.

When and why did you two begin writing?

When Steven was nine, he started writing stories for his younger brothers. They got to be the main characters and had grand adventures! Eventually, he turned these stories into plays, which they put on for the neighborhood kids, charging a quarter each to fund future productions.

Erin always loved books, but she didn’t start writing until she read Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Devastated that she couldn’t grow up to be a dragon rider, she decided to be an author instead, which seemed like the next best thing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Everyone is a writer. Telling a story about your day or about your childhood, whether to entertain, to share, or to inspire—that’s writing!

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

Definitely! The Intuitives is a story about six vastly different teens (well, five teens and one tween) who are recruited by Homeland Security to attend a summer program in an isolated lodge in Wyoming. But the program isn’t what it appears to be, and they have to band together to figure out what they’re really doing there. The thing that stands out to us about writing it is how real the characters felt. It was almost as though they wrote the story themselves.

What inspired you to write this book?

We both love writing stories, so that’s always inspirational! But for this particular book, we wanted the story to reflect the tremendous value we see in teamwork—and also to show that no matter how different you might think you are from someone else, that doesn’t have to stop you from being friends and maybe even accomplishing something amazing together. Neither one of us could have written any of our books without the other. We write as a team because our stories are much stronger when we bring our skills, experiences, and perspectives together.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That depends so much on what we’re writing! We have a young adult rewrite of Peter Pan on Patreon. It’s set in 1790 England with Wendy as the hero. The writing is lighthearted and playful, with elements of action and danger and romance for tension. The Intuitives, on the other hand, is written in a modern, straightforward style, with hints of a more lyrical influence. And we have a few projects we can’t talk about yet that are entirely different again. Each story provides the reader with a unique experience, and we want the voice of each book to match that experience.

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

Intuitively! But seriously, all six of the kids in the book are highly intuitive, each in his or her own way. The team is the most important thing, rather than any individual character, and the title spoke to us because it captured that essence. As a bit of trivia, the book originally had a subtitle, but we decided it was too much of a spoiler so we cut it at the last minute. We’d tell you what it was, but we hate spoilers!

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

First and foremost, we hope The Intuitives will be a fun and entertaining read. That’s always our main goal! But it’s also a story about how people can work together to accomplish something much bigger than anyone could have done alone. We hope it inspires readers to realize that no matter how small anyone’s role on a team might feel, every single one of those roles matters. What you bring to the world matters. What every single person brings to the world matters.

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

Of course! And at the same time, emphatically no. All good writing borrows from your own life. A sarcastic comment might remind you of a sarcastic friend, a bubbly outburst might remind you of your bubbly cousin, etc. And yes, a few of the specific things in the novel were taken from our own lives, but you’ll have to guess which ones!

At the same time, none of the characters in The Intuitives is based on any particular person. They are all very much their own individuals, and we can’t help but feel it was the characters themselves who came together to write the story.

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

For Steven, J.R.R. Tolkein, R.A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, and Margaret & H.A. Rey, the creators of Curious George. They all sparked his imagination with magic and adventure, fueling his love of fantasy. For Erin, Anne McCaffrey set her on the path to becoming an author, and Janet Burroway, author of The Truck on the Track, showed her how much fun playing with language could be.

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

We mentor each other. It’s one of the best things about being a writing team! Steven says he learns a lot from Erin about making a fictional universe feel real. Erin says she learns a lot from Steven about capturing the reader’s attention and building that tension throughout the novel.

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

We held a contest on 99designs.com for original cover art, and the winning design came from an artist named Eugen Zhuravel. We felt that it best captured the essence of the novel, with a sense of magic and ancient mystery.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find people who are positive about your writing, support each other, and don’t give up. They don’t even have to be writers! Create your own group of intuitives, and decide together to accomplish your dreams, whatever they may be. Don’t try to do it. Decide to do it. Then work together to make it happen!

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

Thank you! You’d be surprised how big a part YOU play in the creation of any book, and no author ever made a living at writing without readers. Every single one of you matters, and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Intuitives Book CoverErin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown
Georgia farm country, USA

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The Intuitives

Cover Artist: Eugen Zhuravel
Publisher: Trash Dogs Media LLC

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Author Interview: Katie Taylor

With fifteen professionally produced book titles under her belt, Author Katie J Taylor is an experienced pro.  I am delighted to introduce her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author K.J

My name is Katie J Taylor, and I was born in Canberra, Australia in 1986. I have a Master’s Degree in Information Studies and when I’m not writing I work as an archivist. I love movies and have a ridiculously huge collection of soundtracks, and I also enjoy drawing and various crafts – I sew custom-designed plush toys for fun and occasionally take commissions.

When and why did you begin writing?

In Primary School, when I was quite young. We were often given class work writing short stories and poems and such, and I took to it right away. I had a fascination with expressing things I’d felt and experienced through little poems and the like. I remember once when I was upset because the bullies had had a go at me, I sat down and wrote a poem about it and that made me feel better. I didn’t start trying to write novels until was about thirteen, though.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I was in my mid teens and had decided I wanted to be published more than anything. Then it stopped being a hobby and became a calling and lifelong ambition.

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

The Price of Magic is set in a world where the sick and handicapped have magical powers. The worse the affliction, the more powerful the magic. The protagonist, Pip, is a chirpy undersized boy with a crippled leg. He isn’t particularly powerful, but he has a gift other mages like himself lack: the ability to truly listen to another person. When he meets Seress, one of the most powerful mages in the world, Pip must find a way to help her through her crippling depression in order to save magic from being destroyed forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was having a bit of a rough time, suffering from severe anxiety – a problem which troubles me from time to time but had never been so bad before. I did the sensible thing and went to see a therapist, and while I was waiting for my next appointment I started to feel angry and resentful. True, I had the ability to create things many can’t, but why did I have to be such a screwup? It occurred to me then that most artists are screwups or sick in one way or another; some of us suffer from chronic illnesses (myself included), some of us are bipolar, some of us are depressed – the list goes on. I came up with the idea for The Price of Magic right there and then. The magic in the series is analogous for art and creativity, and in some ways this is my most personal work to date.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write in a very straightforward manner and avoid flowery language or overly elaborate description. I also keep my dialogue relatively straightforward and without any frills – characters only use fancy language when they’re making speeches, which doesn’t happen often, and often not even then. I suspect my style is influenced by a lot of the English novels I read when I was younger.

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

Simple enough! The theme of the story is how art (or magic) always comes with a price. This is one of the rare titles I was able to nail on the first try.

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

I avoid putting overt messages in anything I write, so any messages that are in there emerge naturally and it sometimes takes me a while to figure out what they are. True, I started out with a very definite theme, but I had no particular “lesson” in mind. I deliberately treated all the characters as even-handedly as possible; I have nothing but contempt for the cliché of the “noble retard” or the “inspirational sick/crippled person”. As someone who is mentally, shall we say different from other people, I just want to be treated like a human being and I’m sure the rest of us feel the same. If there is a message here at all, it’s that no matter what your difficulties in life, you still have something to contribute, and you are still a person no matter how strange and abnormal you and others may think.

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

I have Asperger’s Syndrome which wasn’t diagnosed until I was 16, so I’m pretty familiar with feeling like an outsider too weird and “stupid” to fit in. Pip, the protagonist, isn’t an Aspie but he has something of the excitement and curiosity I had about the world around me when I was a child (before I became bitter and cynical, hahah). When it comes to Seress, I drew on experiences I’ve had in dealing with severely depressed people, which is why I didn’t sugercoat it. Having depression is terrible, but it takes almost as much of a toll on the sufferer’s loved ones. Hence Pip is seen slowly succumbing to sadness after trying to cheer Seress up eventually exhausts him. But I wanted to emphasise that Seress isn’t just “the depressed character” – she’s a very nice, kind-hearted and intelligent woman who happens to be sick.

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

William Horwood is a big one. His Duncton Wood series has been a lifelong favourite of mine, and his themes of spirituality, redemption and the mysteries of the past always fascinated me. J.K.Rowling is an inspirational figure to me as a person because in the face of everything she has always stayed classy and has refused to let wealth and success change her. I really enjoyed Harry Potter as well. When I was younger I was a massive Discworld fan, which is where I got my interest in deconstructing and subverting genre tropes.

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

The illustrator and cover design were chosen by the publisher.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I could rattle off a few platitudes about how you should write every day, etc. etc. but instead, I’ll say this: Publishing is hard. Incredibly, ridiculously, painfully, I-want-to-jump-off-a-bridge-in-frustration hard. Therefore, if you want to be happy in your chosen profession, make it about the writing and to heck with money and success, because for most of us there will never be any. If it makes you happy, that’s great. If it makes other people happy as well, that’s even better! After over a decade in the business, it’s all I truly care about now.

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

All I have to say to them is in my books. What I myself have to say in person is really not that important.

Price of Magic CoverK.J.Taylor
Canberra, ACT

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The Price of Magic

Cover Artist: Sabrina RG Raven
Publisher: Black Phoenix

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Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

Fantasy writer and puzzle maker, Debbie Manber Kupfer believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can do anything. I’m pleased to welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

author-debbie-manber-kupferHi there, thanks so much for having me. I’m Debbie Manber Kupfer and I’m a writer, puzzle maker, mom, cat lover, and tea drinker! I grew up in London, spent time in Israel, New York, and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, MO, where I live with my husband, two kids and a very opinionated feline called Miri Billie Joe.

I divide my time between writing fiction and writing puzzles for magazines and my blog, Paws 4 Puzzles. I get through my day by drinking about a gallon of hot tea with milk and rewarding myself with the occasional piece of dark chocolate.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve pretty much always written. I remember as a kid I would fill notebooks with stories and once even sent one to the Puffin Post. It was about turning into a ladybug and the problems that created. (See even back then I wrote about shapeshifters!). I got a mention in the magazine and was so thrilled and knew I wanted to be a writer.

But life took over and over the years that followed though I started many books I never finished anything. Then in 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through surgery, chemo and radiation and today thankfully I’m cancer free, but my brush with mortality made me realize that if I really wanted to write a book I needed to do it. So during November of 2012, I started writing P.A.W.S. Five years later I have two novels and a number of published short stories and am about to release book 3 of my series this March.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until my first book was published in 2013. It became real the day I held the paperback of P.A.W.S. in my hands.

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

P.A.W.S. is the story of a young girl, Miri, who receives a silver cat charm from her grandmother, Celia, on the night before Celia dies. Little does she know but the charm contains a secret, a powerful magic that saved Celia from the Nazis and is about to make Miri’s life a whole lot more interesting.

What inspired you to write this book?

Back in October 2012, I woke up one morning with an idea. I clearly saw a young girl being passed a cat charm and knew it was important. I started talking to my daughter about the story that was growing inside me and she encouraged me to write it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m mostly a discovery writer (or pantser if you will). I have a basic idea where my series is going, but only a rough idea how we will get there, and I truly enjoy the ride along the way.

How did you come up with the title of this book?
P.A.W.S. is an acronym for the magical society in which Miri finds herself. It stands for the Partnership of Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters.

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

There are many messages in this story. I, like Miri, was bullied as a child, so her story resonates with me. I believe there’s a lot more to most people than you see on the surface and my stories are all about scratching beneath that surface.

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

Yes, even though I write fantasy many of the characters and situations in my books are based on people that have had an important part in my life. For example the kangaroo animagus exchange student at P.A.W.S., Joey Marks is based off my son Joey who shares a lot of his traits. Smart, enthusiastic, bouncy – with a love for games and puzzles.

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

JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. These four are my writing gods. I can revisit their books over and over again and always find something new. It’s all in the little details and in the humor.

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

I have one. My personal friend and critique partner, Larry Miller. Larry writes a completely different genre to me (literary fiction), but we’ve been critiquing each other’s work for so long now that we wholly get and trust each other’s judgement. Finding someone like this if you’re a writer is gold. Hold on to them.

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

The superbly awesome Rachel Bostwick. She also creates my book trailers. Find her on Fiverr. She’s wonderful to work with and very reasonable.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you haven’t yet, try NaNoWriMo. It really helps me get my first drafts done and the support of other writers in my local chapter and online is phenomenal.

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

Please write to me! I love hearing from fans and try to reply to every single note.

book-cover-pawsDebbie Manber Kupfer
St. Louis, MO

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P.A.W.S.

Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick

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