Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Chris J. Breedlove

I asked Author Chris Breedlove what his motto for being a writer was.  He answered:

A Writer is…
A humble, receptive student and negotiator
But the heart that beats within his/her breast
Is a determined savage
Unfamiliar with surrender

Please welcome this savvy science fiction author to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Chris Harold Stevenson and I’m 67 years young. I go by the pen name Christy J. Breedlove for my YA books and stories. Yes, I changed gender entirely. That’s another story.

My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three SF short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.

A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers.

I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and got tagged for a film option. So, My latest release is Sceamcatcher: Web World, and it’s showing some promise. I’m getting there, I hope!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer when I published the two shorts in Amazing Stories magazine. I actually considered myself an author after my first non-fiction book was published and hit the media. It seems I had to have legitimate credits in order to claim such status.

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

I can give you the basic summary, or the extended blurb:

When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s deaths, she turns to an old family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half-blood Chippewa, Jory thinks old Native American lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try. However, the dream catcher has had its fill of nightmares from an ancient and violent past. After a sleepover party, and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream episodes, the dream catcher implodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into its own world of trapped nightmares. They’re in an alternate universe—locked inside of an insane web world filled with murders, beasts, and thieves. How can they find the center of the web where all good things are allowed to pass? Where is the light of salvation? Are they in hell?

What inspired you to write this book?

It all started with a dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into the consciousness of the sleeper.

I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold any more visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a fruit salad of other known writer’s influences. Oh, like what I consider stylists: Poul Anderson, Virgin Planet, Peter Benchley, The Island and Jaws, Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field and Black Marble, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Alan Dean Foster, Icerigger trilogy, and some Stephen King. Anne Rice impresses with just about anything she has written. I think it’s the humor and irony that attracts me the most–and it’s all character-related

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

After I had the idea/premise for the book, having researched similar works, if any, I found that I had something very unique. It dawned on me to name the book Screamcatcher since it was a play on words and it sounded impactful. Again, I researched that word and only found that it was used in a short story about a kid having a tooth extraction. I knew then that I was home free. I was continuously complimented by all of the publishers and editors who saw the title. It’s the first book in the series, and I have sub-titles for the other two as well, which are sold and just about ready for editing.

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

I’m not very heavy-handed when it comes to delivering messages in my books. I want to avoid any preaching at all costs. I do include the basic/standard survival, loyalty, courage and persistence themes in my young characters, as well as emotional growth and cooperation. I did hide, or rather include, a very deep and subtle message in the story that I think most will gloss over or not recognize altogether. And that is my belief that sometimes the nice guy finishes first and gets the gal. I wanted something that swerved away from the controlling, domineering alpha male that is so often seen in other works of YA and romance. I wanted a slow burn sweet romance that was touching. Quite a few reviewers recognized this message and I got kudos for it. That was a RELIEF.

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

The main character Jorlene (Jory) is named after my sister. Although she does not resemble the FMC physically, she does so in an emotional sense. Her boyfriend, Choice Daniels, is named after my great-nephew. All of my books contain the names of my extended family members. And there are parts of them that show through in the personalities of the fictional characters.

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

Other than those stylists mentioned above, I had direct contact with members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Alan Dean Foster, Richard Curtis, Robert Bloch, Bob Heinlein, Clive Barker, and others. From their Youtube instruction videos and articles, JK Rowling, Anne Rice, and Stephen King have inspired me tremendously with their no-nonsense attitude about hammering those keys in spite of depression, lack of motivation or pure laziness.

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

That honor would go to Poul Anderson who wrote back to me habitually and gave me guidance in the industry when I needed it the most. He took out his valuable time to befriend me and answer so many questions. Can you tell I’m a dinosaur yet?

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

Carlone Andrus of Melange Books, Fire & Ice YA division rendered the cover after reading the book. I had a different idea in mind, but she absolutely nailed it. The compliments have never stopped coming. Most of the plot is revealed on the cover but you would have to search very hard to put it all together.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Watch your spending on ads–they can be grossly ineffective. Use social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers. Don’t abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of “Buy My Book.” Join writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews–don’t pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers. Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out bi-monthly. Don’t take critiques as personal attacks–learn from honest opinions. Don’t despair. Never give up. Revenge query. I run a writer’s advocate blog and I pull no punches.

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

If you think that you’ve had it tough, I recommend you watch Magic Beyond Words, the life story of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. Books just don’t happen. They are nurtured and raised from infancy, just like a budding writer is. This business might quit you, but you cannot quit the business. Stay active and attentively writing.

Chris J. Breedlove
Sylvania, Alabama

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Screamcatcher: Web World

Cover Artist: Caroline Andrus
Publisher: Melange Books, LLC

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BARNES & NOBLE
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Author Interview: Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Author Madeleine Holly-Rosing has a husband that likes to call her mono-polar manic. Whether he is right or not, this is one author who can turn out a rousing thriller of supernatural steampunk fun. Please welcome Madeleine to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Madeleine Holly-Rosing and I’m the writer of the steampunk supernatural series, Boston Metaphysical Society. It began as a six-issue graphic novel mini-series, but it has expanded to two graphic novel sequels (and another one coming), an anthology of short stories and novellas, and a novel.

I have an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA where I won the Sloan Fellowship among other awards. I’ve had a few scripts optioned and done some work-for-hire, but nothing produced yet. However, while I was there, I wrote the TV pilot for Boston Metaphysical Society which I then adapted into a graphic novel after I graduated. I also wrote a PSA which was co-produced by Women In Film. (The PSA won a Gold Aurora and a Bronze Telly.) And I’ve run six successful Kickstarter campaigns for Boston Metaphysical Society and wrote the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.

I recently retired as a Fitness Instructor for LA Fitness after 18 years, and I’m working on rebuilding my right shoulder after having it replaced. With a titanium shoulder joint, you could say I’m steampunk from the inside out! I also love to bake, especially if chocolate is involved, and I like to garden. And I love dogs. My current favorite authors are Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries) and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone).

When and why did you begin writing?

I think I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to write. However, when I was in my early twenties I decided to stop writing until I got more life experience under my belt. And that’s exactly what I did. About ten years later I started writing again. It definitely made my writing better.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when I optioned my first screenplay. It was great to have someone pay me for my work.

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

You bet. Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets is a prequel to the original six issue mini-series graphic novel. An alternate-history steampunk supernatural thriller, it dives into the lives of Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter, her ex-Pinkerton husband, and her father as they deal with political intrigue and her growing psychic abilities.

The book also won a silver medal in the Feathered Quill Books Awards in the scifi/fantasy category as well being chosen as the overall top pick for Adult, YA, and Children’s categories.

The original six-issue graphic novel mini-series is about an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist who battle supernatural forces in late 1800s Boston. Bell, Edison, Tesla, and Houdini are also involved in the storyline.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter’s story. We only learn a bit about her in the graphic novel, so I wanted to give old fans (and new ones) a chance to get to know her.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I go pretty deep into world-building, but make sure everything is character-driven.

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

That was fun. I knew the core theme of the book was about secrets, but a friend and I brainstormed it together through Facebook messaging.

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

A couple actually:

  1. Women have been saving the world forever and no one knows it.
  2. Secrets can kill.

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

Hahahaha. No. Since it’s set in the late 1800s and has paranormal elements, I can safely say it’s not based on someone I know or events in my life. However, I do use historical figures in the graphic novels and reference a few in the novel.

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

Lois McMaster Bujold. Her characters rock and her sentences are beautiful.

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

I’ve been fortunate to have had mentors for my comic book writing, but not really any for prose. However, I do have awesome beta readers that keep me honest.

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

The amazing cover art was done by Luisa Preissler and the title graphics were done by Anke Koopman. I saw a painting Luisa had done on Facebook for a steampunk novella which I loved so I tracked her down. My original thought was to have three characters on the cover, but that was outside of my budget, so I settled on having her depict Elizabeth Weldsmore Hunter, one of the main characters. Turns out that was the best decision.

The cover won a silver medal in the Authorsdb.com cover contest.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Finish what you write. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And find good beta readers.

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

Welcome to the word of Boston Metaphysical Society. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing
Los Angeles, CA

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Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets

Luisa Priessler – https://www.luisapreissler.de/

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Author Interview: Nick Brown

Author Nick Brown is a full-time author who straddles being writing supernatural thrillers and historical fiction. He claims that both genres show how humanity can never escape its past. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Nick Brown and since 2010 I’ve been a full-time author. I have seven published novels and am currently writing the biography of a major British artist. Prior to this, I was an archaeologist and the Principal of one of the UK’s most successful Further Education Colleges. I studied at Leeds and then Manchester University but never wanted to work in education, my dad was a teacher. Unexpectedly, due to quite hard experience in my late twenties of dealing with the aftermath of two racial murders and race riots in Greater Manchester I was asked to open a multiracial college in Oldham, a racially segregated town. I’m very proud of the achievement but it left its scars which can be traced in my books. I was made an ‘Officer of the British Empire’ by the Queen and found talking to her in front of an audience at Buckingham Palace more frightening than any physical danger I’ve faced. I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and live with my wife and sons in a reputedly haunted house in Cheshire where my Skendleby series is set.
I’ve always wanted to write and decided that once the college was well established and I’d paid my dues to society for my education I would give writing a go. It was a good experience for me to fail at first; I couldn’t get an agent or a publisher, no one was interested in what I was writing. Then I was given some quite brutal, constructive criticism by a friend of mine who is a successful author. I heeded the advice, for which I’m very grateful, and took the time to learn the craft. I self-published my first book, ‘Luck Bringer’, in 2013.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began to consider myself as a writer about four books in. I was offered a publishing contract out of the blue and was then approached by a film company to make a movie of Skendleby, the first in my ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. The film is in the pre-production stage and I co-wrote the script with my youngest son, Gaius, who works in film. This was an interesting experience, to say the least. Being bossed about by your youngest offspring can be a chastening experience.

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

My current book is ‘The Dead Have Gathered’. It is the final instalment in the ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. It deals with a series of inexplicable worldwide disappearances and the search for the cause of these. Like the rest of the series, it is a supernatural thriller but also with overtones of current politics and a looming ecological Armageddon. I think it’s fast-paced and gritty but sprinkled with mordant humour and provides an unexpected answer to the questions the rest of the series posed. It is a dark book which reflects the troubled times we live in and I guess could be read as a metaphor of the mess we seem to have got ourselves into. I can’t imagine how they’ll film this book if the Skendleby film is successful.

What inspired you to write this book?

I thought I’d finished the series with ‘Green Man Resurrection’ but I had a cataclysmic dream about a new character in that book, the shady U.S. secret service spook, Choatmann, and an unworldly mutating tree. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head so started to write ‘The Dead have Gathered’. I wrote it against a backdrop of the political chaos Brexit has plunged the UK into and the emerging story of climate change. I think it is the most frightening thing I’ve written and a fitting conclusion to the series.

My writing style varies depending on the book. The ‘Luck Bringer’ series, set during the Greco- Persian Wars of the 5th century BC, is based on my academic background and, although visceral, has quite a literary style. It attempts, in an exciting way, to fill in the gaps left by the historians. The ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series is very different and although based on archaeological evidence, is more gritty and written in a modern idiom. I think a writer’s style should be led by the nature of the characters being written about. If the characters don’t ring true the book fails, in this sense, the characters write the books.

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

Deciding a title for this final book in the series was more difficult than any other. My first idea, to call it Choatmann after one of the main characters I rejected as uncommercial and it took almost as long to choose an appropriate title as it did to write the book.

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

Yes, there are a couple of messages which I’ve tried to develop across the five books that constitute the ‘Ancient Gramarye’ series. The series is an exploration of fear and how ordinary people cope with it and the idea was to begin with a simple ghost story in Skendleby and mutate it into something much stranger in the other books. The series has a core cast of ordinary women and men whose, relationships, faith and loyalties are increasingly tested and as such is an examination of the strange ways in which we find the courage to deal with what faces us and the consequences that all our actions have and what we have done to the planet.

The second theme explores the nature of what it is that generates the horror we fear: are there ghosts? Are they merely a consequence of quantum physics that we have yet to understand? Do we generate evil ourselves?

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

Some of the experiences in the books are based on events in my own life but I was unaware of this as I wrote them. I think the best example is an episode of rage that Mandrocles, the young hero of the Luck Bringer books, directs at his lover the, the flute girl, Lyra. The episode takes place months after a traumatic episode in his own life which he thinks he has forgotten. After I finished writing the episode I sat back thinking ‘where did that come from’. Days later it hit me; ‘That’s how I felt months after some of the experiences with violence in Greater Manchester. I think the writing had sprung from my subconscious. Examples of some supernatural events in the Skendleby books stem from experiences in my own house, however, I don’t speculate on these; they happened but I’m unsure of what the cause might have been. I think to an extent it’s difficult for any serious writer to exclude at least trace elements of the autobiographical from their writing.

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

I’ve always been influenced by writers since my earliest childhood memories, particularly those that capture the feel of a place. The foremost of these is Alan Garner who, although not prolific, has written with great intensity about Alderley Edge and its grip on the psyche. In ‘The Dead Have Gathered, I revisit his wizard, shamanic figures. I think that the most intensely felt emotional scene in world literature is Hector’s death and the events leading up to it in the Iliad and that has certainly also been an influence. In terms of psychological depth and human embarrassment, I think ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens is the most acute. I know Dickens included a lot of padding to his narratives and a great deal of slapstick humour but at the heart of Great Expectations there lies an all too familiar bleakness. I have read avidly and collected books since childhood.

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

My mentor as a writer would be the war hero/ poet Aeschylus. He fought at Marathon and probably Salamis and brings that harrowing perspective to his plays. Unlike the ancient Greek historians, he writes major parts for women and allows them to carry the action. Sadly only seven full plays and a handful of fragments have survived but every word carries integrity. I’ve included Aeschylus as one of the principal characters in the Luck Bringer books in an attempt to try and get a picture of the man. He would make a testing but fascinating mentor.

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

For my first six book covers I’ve had the same illustrator, Samuel de Cecatty, I like his work and the covers are original and have been entered for awards. However for ‘The Dead have Gathered ‘, I have a new illustrator; Marcus Brown who is a graphic artist and also my son. He came up with a vision for the cover which portrays the cataclysmic events in the book through the dramatic juxtaposition of the key elements defining the series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I always offer the same advice to writers; ‘write because you love it not for money and fame because both are ilusive and illusory.’ Writing ought to be a creative joy. My other advice would be learn what you can from criticism but don’t be put off, persevere and you will get better and develop integrity to your style.

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

To my readers, I’d like to say ‘Thank you’.

Nick Brown
Manchester, United kingdom

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The Dead Have Gathered

Illustrator: Marcus Brown
Publisher: New Generation Publishing
http://www.newgeneration-publishing.com

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Author Interview: John Hazen

Author John Hazen is a simple man who attempts to put his dreams on paper in hopes that they may influence a reader’s dreams. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author John HazenThank you, Wendy, for having me on today. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a 62-year old retiree ‘living the life’ with Lynn, my wife of 39 years, in sunny Florida. I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Then I went to college at Rutgers in New Jersey. I lived and worked in New York City for six years and then spent over 30 years in New Jersey before moving permanently to Florida.

I have an affinity for contradictions and contrasts. I loved growing up in a small town but I also thoroughly enjoyed living in one of the largest cities on earth. In college, my majors were in psychology and sociology but then I spent my professional career in environmental protection. I have a fear of heights when I’m up in a tall building but have sought the thrill of skydiving and parasailing. I do not like being pinned down, and I’ve carried this over into my writing. Three of my books are straightforward suspense/thrillers but the two others venture into the paranormal/supernatural with one about time travel and the other revolving around a curse that entraps souls over the centuries.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always ‘wanted’ to write but never seemed to have the time. It wasn’t until I got my first laptop that I started to write in earnest. I devoted my commuting time, about forty-five minutes each way, to writing novels. The result is that I’m now working on my sixth suspense/thriller.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It was when I got a review on my first book, Dead Dad, from an Englishman that I’d never met before. This book is a time travel story that involves a Vietnam soldier who is transported back to the Civil War. His review: “Dear Dad is a marvelously composed novel about war. I had expected a historical novel with patriotic undertones that would teach me about parts of American history I didn’t know about. While that is also true, I found much more than that: a mature reflection on war and humanity, where naive dreams meet harsh reality.” Reading that, I knew that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I was a writer.

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

I’m actually working on two books right now. One is the third in a series of thrillers about a NYC television reporter, Francine Vega, who helps foil plots and plans that could rock the entire nation, if not the world. The second book, which I’ve only just begun, is about a young man who has a special ability that has been handed down to him from his ancestors to change events in the past and, in doing so, affects the present and future.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book, like a number of others, come from an idea that pops into my head and doesn’t let go. Dear Dad came to me because I wanted a unique way to compare a “popular” war (Civil War) with an “unpopular” one (Vietnam). My book Aceldama came from a question: What could happen if a person stumbled upon one of the coins given to Judas for the life of Jesus? My book Fava came about after reading about the Five Pillars of Islam and wondering what would happen if someone were to try and remove one of those pillars. The genesis of my present book came to me after seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when we were in London last year. It got me wondering about the ability to change past events and how it could impact the present and future.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to be unpredictable. Three of my books are in the first person, one is in the third person and one alternates chapters from first to third and back again. I do occasionally like to insert a device. For example, in Dear Dad I preface each chapter with a letter the main character wrote to his father. The first letter is my favorite: Dear Dad, Almost got killed today. Don’t think it happened, though. Will advise when sure. Exhausted for now. Will write again soon. Love, John

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

My two works in progress don’t yet have titles. For some of my books, the titles practically presented themselves to me from the onset. Fava is the family nickname of the lead character. In others, it’s a much longer process. Aceldama (Aramaic for Potters Field) didn’t come to me until my second or third draft.

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

I always strive to impart a message in my books whether it’s a search for tolerance in the world or striving for redemption even for the most irredeemable person or whether children should bear responsibility for the sins of the parents. The most meaningful books to me over the years are ones that not only entertained me but also left me thinking at the end. I hope that at least some of my readers are left thinking after they finish one of my books.

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

I always try to intermingle stories and events from my life, things that I’ve learned about people I know and stories from my own imagination.

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

My favorite all-time novel is To Kill a Mockingbird but, since Harper Lee only wrote the one novel (I don’t count the travesty that greedy publishers put out a few years ago as her book), I’ve found it wise to get to know some other authors. I’ve loved a number of the classics such a John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis.

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

I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling for a number of reasons. Anybody who can visualize a whole different world the way she did and then to convey that world to all of us is a genius. She actually got kids to read 700-page books! She needs to be commended for that alone. I also admire her dedication and persistence after getting turned down by publisher after publisher. I remember her as I’m trying to make my way in this competitive business.

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

My first book, Dear Dad, was self-published through CreateSpace and they supplied the illustrator. The last four were published by a small independent publisher, Black Rose Writing, who have a very talented designer, Dave King, on staff.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My greatest piece of advice is to just write. Put words on paper or on screen. You can sort them out or embellish later on. Sometimes people who want to write get too intimidated and as a result never do it. Or they have so many ideas they don’t know where to start. I look at writing as comparable to building a house. Many writers want to start selecting the blinds and carpeting before they’ve built the structure and installed the plumbing. Build your book as you go along.

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

I just want to thank them for taking the time to get to know me. I hope that they look over my books and perhaps consider reading one or more of them. I’m completely unbiased, but I have a feeling they’ll like them.

Aceldama Book CoverJohn Hazen
Singer Island, Florida

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Aceldama

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

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Author Interview: Kevin Riley

Author Kevin Riley is a writer with too many hobbies who resides in Sidney, Ohio with his wife. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kevin RileyHello! I am Kevin Riley, a 40-year-old writer and freelance designer from Ohio where I live with my wife. I have three adult kids and recently welcomed grandbabies #3 and #4. When I’m not writing or designing I’m usually woodworking and/or building something, from guitars to furniture, I love to keep busy. I also operate the Keyboard Monkeys blog (https://keyboardmonkeys.blog/ ).

When and why did you begin writing?

I first started writing when I accepted a new position an hour’s drive from my house. I had a lot of time to fill during those two hours of commuting. I used the time to start thinking about a main character and soon other characters started joining him. After a while, they just all started interacting in my head, so eventually, I had to tell their story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I secretly considered myself a writer after I finished my first novel (The Dark Genesis of Daniel James) but I still didn’t feel right calling myself a writer to others until I’d finished by 3rd book (The Consciousness Puzzle). But even then, my career as a designer really started to get busy and I considered myself a designer first and a writer second. Last year I left the company I’d worked for since I was 19 and started freelance designing and writing. I still spend a bit more time designing than writing but my passion has definitely shifted to where I feel I am equally a writer and designer.

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

My current work-in-progress is actually my favorite (isn’t it always?). The title is “My Life As Death” and the premise is basically:

On the eve of his senior year, almost-eighteen-year-old Nathaniel (Nate to his friends) gets into a drunken accident, totaling his car and ending his life, or so he thought. In the darkness of death, a face appears and offers him a deal; agree to become a Grim Reaper (yes, there’s more than one Grim Reaper), send a select number of well-deserving souls to the afterlife and he will get to finish out the life he was meant to live. Fail to reap all of them and Nate will forever be a servant of death.

Now Nate’s not a homicidal maniac; to the contrary, he actually doesn’t like the idea of having to kill anyone, but he’s guaranteed to only have to reap the truly evil, the murderers, rapists and child molesters. How could anyone have a problem with getting rid of those people? Right? Upon touching the guilty party, Nate will even see their evil deeds and know the punishment is deserved. Then he just has to decide how they’ll die. But not everything is as simple as it seems, especially when everyone has secrets.

What inspired you to write this book?

The title My Life As Death actually came to me first while mowing one day, immediately followed by the idea and an image of a teenage grim reaper. I loved the question of how a teenager would handle being responsible for dealing with death. I mean, high school is tough enough without being an angel of death. How would he handle the added responsibility? What would happen with his friends if they find out?

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style has gently evolved with experience. Dark Genesis and My Life as Death are young adult books and 23 Hours and The Consciousness Puzzle are more Adult Action/Adventure so my style probably changes a little between them, but I think the best way to describe my writing style is “fast-paced”. I like to read shorter, action-packed books and I think my writing reflects this preference.

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

The phrase just popped into my head one day while mowing. I always listen to music while mowing and I’m sure it was triggered by a song but unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you which one.

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

This book really seems to hit on many themes such as friendship, responsibilities, redemption as well as others, but I think the overall message is personal strength and accountability. Nate is tasked with a horrible responsibility and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he keeps going.

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

This book, more than any other, draws on a lot of my own teenage experiences and feelings, besides the whole “Angel of Death” part. There are some of the deep friendships like you develop in those years, as well as the teacher/parent/authority-figure conflicts. There’s also the whole idea of figuring out who you are and where you fit in this world, it’s just complicated by the fact that he has a unique obligation to send people on to the after-life.

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

I grew up going to the library all the time, and probably read every “Hardy Boys” book published before I turned 14 or 15, so I’d have to say Edward Stratemeyer and the collection of writers known as Franklin W. Dixon probably had the most influence on me becoming a writer. I think both JK Rowling and Dean Koontz, especially his earlier stuff, really pushed me to explore deeper possibilities with character development in storytelling because of the complexity and flaws of their characters.

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

If I were to choose one writer as a mentor, I think it would have to be Dean Koontz because of his diversity and how prolific he is as a writer.

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

As a designer by trade, I have designed all my book covers. While it’s a different application than what I was used to in my day job I loved the unique challenge, though I’m also probably my own worst customer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

“Just Write”. My first attempt at writing a novel stopped after 15,000 words when I realized that the story wasn’t any good. But the characters were good, and my second attempt with them went much better and became my first novel. If I can do it, anyone can; it just takes time, practice and persistence.

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

To my readers, I would probably say – I’d love to know what you think of any of my books. I appreciate anyone who takes time to tweet at me, email me, or especially to leave a review, even the less than flattering ones. I don’t mind criticism at all, that’s how we grow as people and as writers, though I welcome positive feedback as well.

The Consciousness Puzzle Book CoverKevin Riley
Sidney, Ohio

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The Consciousness Puzzle

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