Tag Archives: writers

Author Interview: Chrys Cymri

I asked Author Chrys Cymri to describe herself and I was told: I live with a small parrot because I can’t afford a dragon.  Fair enough!  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Chrys CymriPriest by day, writer at odd times of the day and night, I live with a small green parrot called Tilly because the upkeep for a dragon is beyond my current budget. Plus I’m responsible for making good any flame damage to church property. I love ‘Doctor Who’, landscape photography, single malt whisky, and my job, in no particular order. When I’m not looking after a small parish church in the Midlands (England) I like to go on far flung adventures to places like Peru, New Zealand, and North Korea.

When and why did you begin writing?

I still have the first short story I wrote when I was around seven years, based on a dream I’d had. The idea that I could capture something in writing fascinated me, and I didn’t stop writing from that moment on. It was just something I did.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve never had a moment when I considered myself a writer. I just wrote. If I don’t write, the characters pound against the inside of my head until I get them out.

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

I’ve just finished the ninth and last book in my contemporary fantasy series. Penny White, the main character, is a full time Church of England priest whose life changes forever when she stumbles across a dying dragon who asks for the last rites. This is her first introduction to the magical world of Daear, which is parallel to our own and can only be entered through ‘thin places’. Along the way, she changes from being a somewhat lonely young widow to falling in love with a dragon and developing a new family around her. Penny loves science fiction, ‘Doctor Who’ in particular, and drinks a little too much single malt whisky.

What inspired you to write this book?

The first scene of the first book, when Penny stops at the side of the road and stumbles over a dying dragon’s tail, came to me in a flash. As the story revealed itself to me, I found myself writing humour as well as about loss and loneliness. I’ve particularly enjoyed the long character arcs which a nine book series has allowed me. Everyone develops over the course of the novels, perhaps most dramatically the main dragon character, Raven. He changes from a James Dean type person to someone who will stand by Penny no matter what happens.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t like writing long descriptions. My focus is on the characters. I also like to make sure that the sound different when they talk, even as real people do, rather than sound all the same.

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

All of the Penny White books are ‘Penny White and…’. So in order, these are ‘The Temptation of Dragons’, ‘The Cult of Unicorns’, ‘The Marriage of Gyphons’, ‘The Vengeance of Snails’, ‘The Vexation of Vampires’, ‘The Nest of Nessies’, ‘The Weariness of Were-Wolves’, ‘The Business of Bees’, and ‘The Humility of Humans’.

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

That diversity is wonderful and to be embraced, not feared. Penny is inclusive (except she doesn’t like unicorns that much) and that’s the outlook of the series. I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking through and portraying different cultures for the various magical creatures in the books.

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

Penny’s encounters in her church derive from events that have happened to me or to colleagues of mine. Of course, I’m very careful to have changed things so that no confidences have been betrayed. Some of the characters are based off people I know, like the dragon Bishop Aeron, who was inspired by my own bishop. (He knows this and is quite pleased!)

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

Three authors in particular taught me the wonder of story telling. The first was Susan Cooper, with her children’s fantasy series ‘The Dark is Rising’. I loved the magic and the weaving of British myths and tales into the stories. Second was ‘The Riddle of Stars’ trilogy by Patricia McKillip. Her use of language is extraordinary. Finally, the ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ books by James Herriot, with their close attention to human experiences and daily life.

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

Patricia McKillip. My heart rose and sank throughout ‘The Riddle of Stars’ trilogy, and I cried at the end of the third book. I was only fifteen years old, and had no idea that a fantasy tale could affect me in that way.

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

Anna Crosswell from Cover Couture. She was able to take my ideas and do something better with them than I could ever have hoped for. There is a common theme to all nine covers which ties them together as a series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

You have to be willing to write for the writing’s sake alone. Very few of us will be able to make a full time living as an author. But along the way you’ll develop a group of dedicated fans, and their appreciative emails will keep you going.

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

Thank you for the emails I receive about how much you love Penny’s world. And I’m amazed that, time and again, it’s Clyde, the carnivorous, hymn-singing snail, who is your favourite character in the series! I was certain it would be the darkly handsome dragon, Raven.

Temptation of DragonsChrys Cymri
Northampton, England

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Author Interview: Jeannette Bedard

By day Author Jeannette Bedard is a scientist, by night she writes science fiction. Her stories are filled with action and adventure where something always blows up, usually in the first fifty pages. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jeannette BedardHi, I’m Jeannette and I write science fiction. As soon as I was old enough to leave home, I set off after adventure. So far, my non-linear career path has included serving in the army and working as a scientist in the Arctic. I have more degrees than I need and even through my current day job keeps me desk bound, I still daydream about going on adventures (and I will someday). I live on an island off the west coast of Canada with my husband and daughter. The nerd in me really likes math jokes, especially if there’s pi involved.

When and why did you begin writing?

For me, storytelling didn’t start with writing. As a child I suffered from insomnia combined with an overactive imagination. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I just made up stories to entertain myself (I still do this). It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my undergraduate degree that it dawned on me others might enjoy my stories too and I started writing them down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I only started considering myself a writer when I published my first novel Day 115 on an Alien World (which was the 5th complete novel I wrote).

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

Years ago I read Ice Station Zebra — a cold war thriller set on a submarine operating under the Arctic ice. I read the novel long enough ago that only one thing sticks out in my mind about it — the submarine had a saboteur on board, a terrifying thing in a confined space.

This hypothetical fear percolated to the surface of my mind after I read The Martian, science fiction set in the not so distant future. I already harboured a fascination about biodomes, closed ecosystems cut-off from the outside. Why not put a saboteur on a dome on a far-off world? From this question, Day 115 on an Alien World arose.

The original idea morphed into a series of four books, the finale I published last summer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Once the idea was in my head, I had to write it down—but the timing was not ideal. I was in the middle of a PhD program and just had a baby. It wasn’t inspiration that put the novel on paper, more dogged persistence and sleep deprivation combined with a dash of craziness.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I consider the craft of my writing to be a work in progress—one which I’ll never finish. I’m always trying to improve. I try to make my characters and settings quirky while adding just a touch of humour.

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

The title Day 115 on an Alien World came about after I discovered that a blue morpho butterfly only lives 115 days—a fact my protagonist, a lepidopterist, would know. Also, having a number in the title really appeals to me.

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

On the surface, the book is full of action and adventure, but deep down it’s about fitting in—a theme that often emerges in my writing.

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

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve never lived under a domed on an alien world—so no, it’s not about events in my life. I did, however, take elements from what I know to add flavour to life on an alien world. Like a conversation I had in the grocery story about rambutan fruit (that they looked like muppet testicles) to some of my experiences in the army.

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

Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars started me thinking about writing after a long dry spell. Its a non-fiction account of all the science that is going into putting people in space. I love how she presents science with such humour and delight.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark was the first adult science fiction novel I ever read— more than twenty years ago and still think about how alien the ship they explored was.

Becky Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit is a recent favourite In fact, I’ve loved every one of her books because she’s created a rich future world that I could live in. But the second one in her series really resonated with me because it was about fitting in.

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

I’ve reread Becky Chambers books multiple times trying to figure out how I could write more like her—does that count?

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

Tiffany Catron designed the cover of Day 115 on an Alien World, unfortunately she doesn’t make covers any more. It was important to me that the cover have a solo astronaut on the cover walking on a barren world.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write lots, and lots more. Also, expect your first drafts to suck. The hardest part for me is starting with a blank page—but once I suffer through writing that first draft, I shape it into something.

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

Thank you for reading!

Day 115 on an Alien WorldJeannette Bedard
Victoria, British Columbia

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The Entrepreneur and Artist by Tola Makanjuola

Image by Gill Donnell from Pixabay

The Entrepreneur and Artist
The Importance of being Well Rounded

Do you choose to be a starving artist? Or is it a condition that befalls those who are inherently driven to create to the point of self detriment? In other words, do you choose to ‘starve’ or does ‘starving’ choose you?

It’s a valid and perplexing query, one worth unpacking with due diligence. Clarity on this issue would perhaps help to cultivate a healthy culture and mindset around creatives and monetising their endeavours.

Most of us would have heard of the denigration, “sell out”, an expression that describes the compromise of one’s integrity or betrayal to an allegiance. No where is this expression more commonly slung than in the realms of artistic endeavour. Why is that? Well, art is seen as a pure expression of self (whatever that means), and therefore, an artist who once immersed himself in the warm waters of artistic moral alignment, now pursuing financial profit ahead of critical acclaim, is seen to be driven by other motivating factors aside from the excellence of his/her art form, and is in effect, deemed a sell-out.

Name calling is unseemly, but there is an element of truth to this assumption which is almost trite. The pursuit of material gain, placed before the value that can derived from an endeavour not only diminishes the overall quality of the work, but does amount to much personal fulfilment.

So that’s the element of truth. Like most human enterprise, physical or otherwise, corruption sips in, insidiously. Being financial successful as an artist of any ilk, seems to almost inevitably come with label of industry sell-out, but not always for the reasons of compromise of artistic integrity, but more for a perceived betrayal to the notion of shunning success for the ‘sake of art’. This is destructive thinking, and while many are wise enough to question the credibility of this thought and it’s motivations, there are many, for reasons varied, who champion this perspective.

The question still remains. Do you choose ‘starvation’, or does ‘starvation’ choose you?

Proclaiming that there those who choose to ‘live for their art alone’, would not add much merit to this writing. That’s obvious, and good luck to them. One can infer some of the reasoning behind their choices, and while not all are invalid, one motive could certainly driven by pious commitment to ‘artistic integrity’. However, if we suggest that there are those who are chosen to ‘starve’, there-in lies a more engaging issue.

What distinguishes a liberal thinker from a conservative thinker ? Liberals are ideas people, high in creativity and openness, low in conscientiousness. Conservatives are not very creative, low on openness, but high in conscientiousness. Therefore, it can be certainly be argued that a highly creative person, is probably more likely to struggle in creating and enforcing a disciplined structure around his/her endeavours compared to a person driven to adhere by rules. But this bellies a critical point.

Great writers, artists, actors, poets reflect as much dedication and discipline to their craft, as do the best regulators, managers, corporate leaders and politicians. And while they may operate in fields that prioritise different traits, (creativity vs organisation ), it would be wrong to suggest that an artist could not develop the skill sets required to at the very least, understand the world of business in which his/her work is being marketed in. In fact, this article determines that an endeavour towards cultivating a well-rounded mindset is the more responsible, and less self indulgent course of action.

As previously stated, great artists like great managers employ discipline. It would seem that while, an artist may be predisposed to a unique mode of being, their ability to learn and master their craft is because of discipline and strength of character in overcoming inevitable adversity along the way. In order to manage your life and creative affairs appropriately, discipline and strength of character are qualities that are equally integral in achieving this aim.

That was a lot of unpack, but here are the essential points. There’s no value in conflating success with corruptible compromise. Of course, compromising on fundamental integrity for material gain will only lead to personal regret. Most importantly, there is a point at which material success and creative success meet. Establishing a place at this point means you are well-rounded, not a sell-out. It equates to being independent, self sustaining (you don’t necessarily need to become wealthy) and fulfilled. No one said it would be easy, but then again, what is?


Poet Tola MakanjuolaTola Makanjuola was born in Lagos, Nigeria. When he was 16, he and his family moved to the UK, where he finished high school and went on to study Media and Communications at Aberystwyth University in Wales. After graduation, he went on to study an Msc. in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management at Imperial College London (2013/14). From then, he went to work in IT Consulting for a period of two years, before branching out to start his company, Circleturn ltd. Under Circleturn, Tola has created the website circleturn.com, which he curates by writing poems, drawing comics, writing book overviews and articles on design thinking. Tola also founded Squishy in 2019, a travel pillow company looking to make the most personable and comfortable travel pillows on the market. He went on to create the Poetry Bores Podcast in April 2020. On Poetry Bores, Tola analyses poetry with his friend Filippo with humour and insight, and also interviews folks who are doing wonderful things such as writing, serving others, building businesses, etc.. Tola has written poetry religiously for the past eleven years, and has published three poetry collections , the latest in March 2020, called ‘Lonely Ways to Change the World’. You can purchase Tola’s first two books on Amazon, and the third in ebook version on his website.

Tola’s Amazon Author Page
Instagram: Poetry Bores Podcast@tola.mkja@onelineandbookmark
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Author Interview: MJ Bell

Author MJ Bell is behind the Award Winning series Chronicles of the Secret Prince and comes to talk about one of her more recent books.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author MJ BellHi, I’m so happy to be here, My name is M.J. Bell. I’m an Indie author from the beautiful state of CO where I live with my husband and new puppy, Tallie. I love to cook, crochet, and, of course, read, but since we’ve gotten Tallie, I do very little other than play with her. It’s just too hard to ignore that cute little face and her whines for attention! I grew up in Iowa and spent a 8 1/2 year stint in AZ, but CO is where my heart is and I’ll always consider it home.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until my boys got into middle school and suddenly found there wasn’t anything for them to read. (this was before Harry Potter and Percy Jackson was around) So, I started to write stories for them. I never did finish one– having 4 kids there wasn’t a whole lot of spare time– but I discovered that I truly loved writing. Then when Harry Potter came along, it brought so many kids back to reading, but I kept thinking…what are they going to read once this series is finished? So, I sat down and wrote my first novel, Before the Full Moon Rises, a Teen/YA fantasy, which won the Gold Mom’s Choice Award in fantasy.

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

Next Time I See You is a time travel suspense thriller. It about a girl, Kat, who falls into a deep depression and can’t move on with her life after her boyfriend is killed in a mass shooting. But after a chance encounter with an intriguing stranger who leads her to the discovery of a time machine, she takes it as a sign she is supposed to go back in time and stop the shooter. She hatches a daring plan to sneak into the lab where the machine is housed not thinking or caring about the dangers involved. However, the second Kat steps out of the time machine, it becomes clear that fate has a plan of its own, and she is not at all prepared for it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved time travel stories and always wanted to write one. But I wanted to use science, not magic, and that was a problem. The great physicists say time travel is possible, but to do so one would either have to go faster than the speed of light, fly close to a black hole, or latch onto one of the cosmic strings that are supposedly floating around in space. None of those are options for an everyday college student like Kat, my character. So, for years I couldn’t write the story. Then one day I found an article about a professor who has developed a time travel theory that uses laser lights to bend space time into a circle. He’s even started building the time machine and hopes to have it up and running soon. But whether he does get it working or not makes no difference – he gave me a good scientific solution for my book, and wah la, Next Time I See You was born!

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

Titles are always hard for me. They’re such an important part of the book and you have to make sure they appeal to the right readers of the genre. I knew I wanted the words “Next Time” in the title for the time travel reference, so I researched those words to see what was out there, and I happened upon a song, Maybe the Next Time, by Sue Medley. It’s such a beautiful song and I fell in love with it immediately, but there were too many other books out there with that title. So, I played around with different combinations of the words until I came up with Next Time I See You, and I knew right away that was it.

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

Nothing in the book is based on anything that has happened to myself or anyone I know, but the mass shooting is based on the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting. The shooting itself does not take place in the book, just the aftermath, but I did a lot of research on that shooter and my shooter that Kat has to stop is based on him. And I can tell you, the research I did on that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It really affected me and got to me emotionally. I was very glad when that part was done!

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

As I previously mentioned, J.K. Rowling has been a huge influence for me. I don’t think I would have finished my first book if it hadn’t been for her. In my opinion, she has done more for the teen/YA genre than anyone else, and I love how she has opened the door for so many of us to follow. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, I pull out one of her books and start reading it again. I don’t know what it is about it, but it always gets my creative juices flowing again. I’ll forever be grateful to her—Always.

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

Several of my author friends recommended the incredibly talented book cover designer, Mr. Steven Novak, and I’m so glad they did! I knew what I wanted for the cover and he put it together for me better than I even imagined. All the covers he’s done are marvelous, but I have to say, he really outdid himself with mine.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never ever compare your success to someone else’s! Different genres sell differently, and some people write fast, some slow. So, don’t think of yourself as a failure if you can’t put out a book every six months, or if your children’s fantasy isn’t selling as well as your friend’s romance. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small, because writing a book is not easy, but it’s so worth it!

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

Thank you for having me. I love to connect with readers, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at mjbell.author@gmail.com.
I hope you check out my books and happy reading!


Next Time I See You Book CoverMJ Bell

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Author Interview: Lynne Stringer

I know Author Lynne Stringer as a fellow Knight of the  SciFi Roundtable, an active writer’s group on Facebook.  She writes YA sci-fi and contemporary drama.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, my name is Lynne Stringer, and I love writing! I especially love writing science fiction with a young adult focus. I enjoy creating new worlds and exploring new characters.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book when I was about eight. It was called Goldie the Pony and was written in felt tip. It wasn’t very good, but I kept at it. I loved it when they asked us to write a story in English at school. It was my favourite thing to do. That hasn’t changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was in my twenties. It helped that I started to work as a journalist for a small magazine around this time. It made me feel legitimate.

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

The Verindon Alliance takes place in the same world as the trilogy I released in 2013/14. Verindon is a planet where, during the time the trilogy takes place, they have more advanced technology than we have. There are two distinct humanoid species on this planet—the Vendel and the Verindal.

During the time of the trilogy, they live in peace, although there are some tensions and problems beneath the surface. However, The Verindon Alliance is set about a thousand years earlier, at a time when Verindon didn’t have much greater technology than we have today. It was also a time when the Vendel and the Verindal were still at war, so that’s part of the conflict in this novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

The events featured in The Verindon Alliance are referred to in my trilogy. I had loosely sketched out what happened but wanted to see if I could write it out completely.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t like writing outlines, although I have an outline in my head. I usually sit at the keyboard and see where my characters take me.

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

With help from my publisher. I suck at titles. We work together to try and come up with the best ones we can.

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

Racism is something that features in every novel I’ve set on Verindon, as it’s a huge issue there. One thing I featured this time more than I did in the trilogy was implicit bias—how the bias that a person’s been raised with, that has become a major part of their development, is so hard to overcome. It’s a major theme in the novel. The Vendel and the Verindal have to work together. If they don’t …

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

No, it’s all from my imagination.

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

I’ve loved a lot of the classics. The Brontës are authors I’ve long adored. They wrote a lot of vivid, emotive books. There were no aliens in their stories, but they still spoke to me. In the science fiction world, I like Timothy Zahn and Vonda McIntyre.

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

Probably Charlotte Brontë. I would love to talk to her for hours about Jane Eyre.

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

My publisher has some talented people they use to design their covers. Shame on me—I don’t know their names!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. You need to take your time and get it as right as you can the first time. Read a lot, write a lot, listen to advice. Find a good professional editor (this is not an optional extra; it’s essential). Always take stock every step of the way before you make a decision.

The Verindon Alliance Book CoverLynne Stringer
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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