Tag Archives: author interview

Author Interview: Marjorie King

I had the pleasure of meeting Marjorie as a co-panelist on the Scifi Roundtable Podcast.  She is impressive with her knowledge of science fiction and due to her engineering background, a fine scientist herself.  I’m pleased to introduce her on No Wasted Ink.

Hey everyone! I’m Marjorie King. I grew up on Asimov, Star Wars, and Star Trek. House Ravenclaw (with a little bit of Slytherin). I love reading, making memories with my family, cooking, and hiking the US National Parks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I actually loved painting and chemistry. I graduated in Chemical Engineering and painted as a side hobby. I thought that would define the rest of my life.

But then I lost my brother to a skiing accident–please, please wear helmets when you ski–and that was a devastating year. After that year was over, I had journeyed through my grief, but there was still something left. Something I couldn’t put into words, but something that needed working out. At that time, this story formed in my mind, and I couldn’t stop picking at it. I kept developing the characters and their adventures. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

So, January 2015 I made a New Year’s resolution: I would write the story. It helped heal me in hard to define ways.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I wrote “The End” on that first story in May of 2015, I was hooked. At that point, I didn’t consider myself a published, polished author. But I was a writer.

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

Rogue Invasion is book 2 in the Maverick Series. It starts a few months after Maverick Gambit left off. The crew has finished their mission. Brant is starting his new job as a teacher at a school for adapted children. But it isn’t the dream job he’d always hoped. And the hidden assassins the crew fought at the end of their last mission are plotting their revenge.

What inspired you to write this book?

It wasn’t until the book was finished that I realized I had put a teacher on the pedestal of the story. But in hindsight, it made perfect sense. My mom has retired from years of teaching high school math, so I got to see behind the scenes how much teachers sacrifice for their jobs and their students.

I think teacher appreciation is understood a lot more now, with all the remote learning that took place during the quarantine.

Do you have a specific writing style?

The pacing of the sentences and paragraphs has a strong stage dialogue feel. It’s my short time in a theatre showing through.

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

A Rogue group of assassins is plotting to Invade the school. Ta-da! Rogue Invasion.

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

No one is all good or all bad. You have to treasure the good and cope with the bad (sometimes from a safe, healthy distance).

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

Well, my mom being a teacher influenced it heavily.

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

Asimov got me hooked on SciFi. I love Aliette de Bodard’s poetic style. I go to Terry Pratchett when I need a laugh. Murderbot, by Martha Wells, has absolutely won my heart. When I want something slower and more contemplative, I turn to the Three-Body Problem series. The Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn is an old favorite that’s been resurrected.

I also enjoy Mark Twain’s wit, CS Lewis’s insight, JK Rowling’s magic, JRR Tolkien’s worldbuilding… you get the idea.

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

May Dawney Designs. I’d lost the cover artist from my first book. He’d changed careers. So I went to the SciFi Roundtable Facebook group and begged for references. Several recommended May Dawney, and when I checked out her website, her art was brilliant and in my price range! She worked hard to match book 2’s cover to the feel of book 1.

But between you and me, I like hers better than the cover for book 1. In a few months, I might hire her to redesign book 1.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing.
Read books on writing.
Test the advice.
Apply what you like.
Toss what you don’t.
Keep writing.

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

Thank you!

Marjorie King
Clute, TX

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Rogue Invasion

cover artist:  May Dawney Designs

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Author Interview: JM Landels

I met Jennifer Landels at WorldCon and was immediately drawn to her well-organized author table and displays.  We fell to chatting and I extended an invitation to come to No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jennifer Landels, and I write under JM Landels. I wear many hats – writer, editor, swordswoman, and equestrian are just a few. I’m the author of the Allaigna’s Song trilogy, managing editor of Pulp Literature Press, head of the Mounted Combat Program at Academie Duello, and owner of Cornwall Ridge Equestrian in Langley BC. I’ve also been an illustrator, childbirth educator, and lead singer and guitarist of several punk/metal/grunge bands.

When and why did you begin writing?

There’s a picture of me at the age of 4 holding up a ‘book’ I ‘wrote’ and illustrated. I think it was an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, with about one malformed word per page. It was completely done in thick red marker. I like to think it was a feminist manifesto of some sort. I don’t know why I’ve always felt compelled to write. My first attempt at a novel was when I was fourteen. It was highly derivative, inspired by Anya Seton’s Katherine or something in that vein, and never saw more than two chapters.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, I got good marks for short stories and was often given free rein to go off and write fiction when everyone else was stuck with essays. I won a few contests, and attended some conferences for young writers, and always felt I would eventually write novels. However, I stopped writing fiction in university, and even though I occasionally wrote a few pages here and there during my time as a musician and dilettante, I always got stuck. I did pages and pages of comics, but I could never get past the beginning of a novel. It wasn’t until my kids were in preschool that I took Dale Adams Segal’s Hour Stories workshop and unlocked all that pent up prose at last.

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

Allaigna’s Song: Aria is the middle book in a bildungsroman trilogy. The first book, Allaigna’s Song: Overture, follows the heroine from childhood to adolescence as she learns to control her dangerous and illicit ability to sing music into magic. It also weaves in the stories of her grandmother and mother as young women. On the surface, it’s an epic fantasy with adventure, romance, and political tension, but it’s really about mothers and daughters.

The second book finds Allaigna on the road, running away from an unwanted betrothal, furious over the lies her family has told her all her life, and searching for her biological father. It is in some ways picaresque, but the continuing stories of her mother and grandmother anchor the book in the realm of the family saga.

The final book brings Allaigna full circle as an adult and unites the timelines of the three main characters.

What inspired you to write this book?

The character of Allaigna arrived in my head as a fully formed hero, and I started writing to find out what forces shaped her into one. It took over a decade to write the first book and was heavily influenced by my three daughters as they grew. Many of my other influences show as well, such as my musical background, my involvement with childbirth, and my love of horses.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s a better question for one of my readers. I’m not sure. I tend to lean towards first person, but my voice changes considerably with the characters. I’m currently working on a historical series set in 17th century France, and I find a touch of Gallic insouciance shows up in the narration. With Allaigna’s Song, I have different rhythms for each of the three main characters, and I differentiate them further with tense and person.

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

Allaigna’s magical ability with music made Allaigna’s Song a fairly obvious choice for the series title, and the subtitles are musical terms. Overture is clearly the beginning; Aria is about Allaigna on her own, away from her family – a soloist, as it were; and Chorale brings a host of characters old and new together for the finale.

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

This middle novel is about Allaigna pulling free from her family with a self-imposed quest. Despite physical distance, she continues to discover much about herself and what makes a family in her travels. Saying more than that would create spoilers, so the rest is up to the reader to glean.

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

There are bits of me in all three characters, but there are also bits of my daughters, my mother, and my grandmother – not necessarily in the generational order you’d think.

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

Early on, CS Lewis, George MacDonald, Ursula LeGuin, and Madeline L’Engle gave me my love of fantasy. Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and CJ Cherryh were huge influences in my teen years – they wrote (and in the case of CJ Cherryh, still write) wonderful women characters that were a counterpoint to the male-dominated worlds of Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, which I also devoured.

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

It would either be Margaret Atwood, who is so remarkably clever, and who has been disobediently flitting through genres for years with her marvellous, literary voice; or Barbara Kingsolver, who writes so beautifully and passionately about families and ecology. I find her prose just guts me, in a good way.

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

I commissioned the painting from Melissa Mary Duncan. I fell in love with her work back in 2013 when she was working on the painting Frost and Snow (which later became the cover of Pulp Literature Issue 21, and is currently the first image on her website), because it looks exactly like Allaigna’s great aunt Lauraign. I decided then and there that she was my number one cover artist choice, and I was thrilled when she agreed to paint first Overture and then Aria. The cover design of Overture was done by Kris Sayer, who lovingly handcrafted title font for both the cover and interior. She was unavailable for the second book, but my daughter Kate Landels is also a talented designer and created a design that fits perfectly with the style of the first book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Turn off your inner critic and just write. Write without thinking, or plotting, or trying to be clever – just let the words pour out. It might take some practice before you can do that. Then, when you’ve done that a good while, go through and pick out pieces that you can polish and arrange into a coherent story. The more you write, the better you will get at picking the right words the first time, and the less you’ll have to discard.

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

Thank you!

Alligna's Song: Aria Book CoverJM Landels
Langley BC, Canada

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Allaigna’s Song: Aria

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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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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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