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Author Interview: Karen Michelle Nutt

No matter the genre her tales fall under, Author Karen Michelle Nutt tries to capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most mysterious and fabulous human phenomena of falling in love. I’m pleased to welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

author karen michelle nuttMy name is Karen Michelle Nutt. As a multi-published author, I spin tales for The Wild Rose Press, Highland Press, Victory Tales Press, and Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery. I have also ventured into self-publishing.

I reside in California with my husband. We’ve been married for thirty-two years and have three fascinating children, who are grown now and have started their own adventures in life. We still have a houseful of demanding pets. Jack, my Chorkie, is my writing buddy and sits long hours with me at the computer.

When I’m not time traveling, fighting outlaws or otherworldly creatures, I create pre-made book covers with my daughter Katrina Gillian at: Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover”.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing down my stories when I was about nine or ten because I thought it was fun. I wrote plays at first. My fifth-grade teacher let my friends and I perform one of them too. It was very exciting for a ten-year-old.

Later, I jotted down stories in notebooks. I still have those early writings. They were written in ink, not on a computer. So ‘spell check’ wasn’t available. I couldn’t erase or add words if they were needed. Definitely, a rough draft. My daughters, when they were young, loved those stories and read them over and over again.

However, after I was married and had three children, life seemed to be too busy to pick up a pen and write. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine asked me why I didn’t write anymore that I realized how long it had been. That week I sat down and started my first novel and haven’t stopped writing since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose I’ve always been a writer in my heart, but when I held my first book in print that my publisher had sent me, I truly believed it.

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

Evie Reid on a whim agrees to travel back in time to 1997 to change bad boy/rock star Bellamy Lovel’s path. She’s smart with a college degree, but she is still fan-girl crazy for the rock band, Civilized Heathens. Evie knows despite all Bellamy’s smiles and enthusiasm on the stage, he’s destined to end it all on one lonely night in a hotel room unless she can change his path.

Bellamy isn’t keen on having Evie as his personal assistant, hired by his bandmates to watch over him, and keep him on schedule. However, there is something about the woman that sparks his interest, despite his best to ignore her. When darkness threatens to consume him he realizes she may be the only light that will chase the shadows away.

What inspired you to write this book?

My daughter and I watched ‘INXS, Live at Wembley’ on DVD. We were sad to think the lead singer had died so tragically and there would never be another song written or performed by him. The time travel tale about Bellamy Lovel took root, but I wanted a happier ending for my rock star and sent Evie back in time to try and save him.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No matter how dark the story may be, I try to also keep some levity in the tale. Life is about ups and downs and everything in between. I strive to keep the characters real no matter if their human, a vampire or shapeshifter. I want them to have genuine emotions and flaws because no one is perfect. I want them to fall in love and by the end of the story, I want the characters to find their happily ever after even if its only for now.

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

It was inspired by an INXS song. It wasn’t the title or the theme but three words within the song that inspired the title. Two Worlds Collided became the title for two reasons. My heroine is from the future and my hero is from the past, but their worlds collide. Also, my heroine’s essence is what travels back in time to merge with her younger self in 1997. In a sense, her worlds collide so she can be with the hero and hopefully change his tragic past.

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

First and foremost, I hope the story is heartwarming, fun and simply entertaining.

Though Two Worlds Collided is a time travel romance with plenty of humor and steamy romantic moments, my fictional character, Bellamy struggles with addiction, depression, and suicide. They are all serious emotions that should never be overlooked.

Of course, thoughts of suicide are not necessarily something people announce to the world and this means loved ones often have no idea that their friend or family member is even contemplating such an act. However, there may be signs and risk factors, and while you might think you can’t make a difference by yourself, you’re wrong. Sometimes all it takes is one person to say something or do something that will change their decision. One smile, one comment, a conversation or even a gesture toward someone who is considering suicide could make all the difference in the world. It could instill hope and with hope they may seek help.

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

Though I’ve known people who have suffered from addiction and depression, Two Worlds Collided was inspired by the tragic story of a true-life rock star.

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

Not really a mentor, but I do have someone I can bounce ideas off and discuss story plots. This is my daughter Katrina, who is not only a talented cover book artist but also an author as well. We’ll sit down and brainstorm about where I should send my characters next.

I also have a very good friend who edits my work and she’s not shy about telling me if something isn’t working for her in the story. This is vital in penning a good tale. I value her honest opinions. Thanks, Cathy.

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

I’m blessed with knowing many author friends that I’ve met online who have shared their experiences on what works and what doesn’t work in the storytelling world. Both are important in striving to be a successful writer.

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

Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover” is the name of my book cover store that I co-own with my daughter, Katrina Gillian. I created the cover for Two Worlds Collided. There were a few covers created before the one you see now was finally chosen.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be true to yourself. Write every day even if you don’t feel inspired. Sometimes your quick thoughts can blossom into something more.

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

Readers are what writers can never live without. The novel doesn’t only belong to the writer; it also belongs to the reader as well. Without the reader, the story is just ink on a paper and nothing more. Opening the book, reading those first words, this is where the true magic begins. I love readers! Thank you so much for loving books.

book cover two worlds collidedKaren Michelle NuttKaren Michelle Nutt
Huntington Beach, CA

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Two Worlds Collided

Cover Artist: Gillian’s Book Covers
Publisher: Twin Star Books

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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: 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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