Author Interview, A.J Griffiths-Jones

 

Welcome all. Thanks for dropping by again.

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing A.J Griffiths-Jones

Hi A.J. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

  1.  When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

From a very early age. I used to write plays for my cousins & I to act out at family gatherings and, in my teens, I used to fill exercise books with stories that I’d made up.

    2.   What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am interested in writing across a wide spectrum of genres from Victorian crime to cookery books. I love challenges and writing out of my comfort zone enables me to push myself to new heights. Ultimately though I would like my work to be adapted for film or a T.V. series.

    3.   Which writers inspire you?

I love the characters created by Alexander McCall Smith, the imaginative stories told by Kazuo Ishiguro & the timeless genius of Charles Dickens. I never tire of reading anything by these authors.

    4.   So, what have you written? My first book (published in May 2015) was ‘Prisoner 4374’, the autobiographical tale of convicted poisoner & Jack the Ripper suspect, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream. I am immensely proud to say that it won the ‘Jack the Ripper Book of the Year Award 2016.’ I have also written four cosy mysteries, ‘The Villagers’, ‘The Seasiders’, ‘The Congregation’ and ‘The Circus’ (due to be published next month). I am also a regular feature writer for ‘The Dagger’ a true crime magazine.

   5.   What are you working on at the minute?

I am currently researching a second Victorian crime book and from May, I will be writing the final book in my mystery series. I generally work on two books at once.

   6.   Why do you write?

Writing is my passion. In 2014 I suffered a stroke and was unable to work. Writing has given me my life back and inspired me to explore new avenues which I might never have dared to do had I not become a published author. It’s taught me not to take anything for granted.

   7.   Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere & everywhere. I am always jotting down ideas for new books, sometimes I simply wake up in the middle of the night with a thought or storyline, and of course I’m also inspired by historical crime and mysteries. If there’s a story, I’ll find it!

   8.   Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I always run through the plot in my mind like a screenplay before I commence writing. This process usually takes about a month. This ensures that when I actually come to put the work together, I can see my characters clearly, hear them speaking, know how they interact with each other and how they live in the environment around them. If I’m working on a period setting, I always research the era thoroughly too.

   9.   How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’m learning to listen to my readers. Reviews show that my work is becoming more and more popular as my most recent books come out & I’m becoming more confident in my work as time goes on.

  10.  What is the hardest and easiest things about writing?

The hardest thing for me is actually switching off. I’m a terrible insomniac & sleep very few hours. Sometimes I have to listen to my body and take a break. The easiest thing is creating my characters. Once the scene is set, they just seem to fall into place, which I’m very grateful for.

  11.  Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read at least one book a week, sometimes more. I’ve recently discovered Scandinavian crime writer Camilla Lackberg and I’ve been enjoying her thrillers immensely. I’m also a big fan of Paulo Coelho, the morals & lessons beneath his stories are quite moving.

  12.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I don’t have experience of being self-published, as I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered contracts by two very good publishers. I would imagine that the down-side of self-publishing is the amount of time that one would have to dedicate to marketing.

  13.  Do you have any advice for other budding authors?

I believe that there is a reader for everyone. Don’t be disheartened by negative reviews or comments about your work, just strive to improve. Get yourself out there and somebody somewhere will love your work.

  14.  How do you relax?

I love cooking, experimenting with new recipe ideas and hosting dinner parties. I also grow all my own vegetables which is great fun. I swim two to three times a week and I also love travelling. As soon as we return from one holiday, the map comes out and we plan our next trip.

  15.  What is your favourite book and why?

I have a few firm favourites, but I’d say the one that I love the most is ‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova. It has just the right mix of historical and supernatural fiction to sweep you away to another realm.

  16.  Which character from any book you’ve read, would you like to be and why?

Precious Ramotswe from ‘The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith. She’s hilarious, always getting up to mischief & using her skills of detection to find out people’s secrets. She’s also a kind, bubbly woman, the kind you’d want fighting your corner, something that I always strive to be.

Thank you A.J for a lovely chat. Quite inspirational I may add. I wish you the best of for the new release.

Stay tuned for more author chats.

Here are A.Js links:

https://www.facebook.com/AJGriffiths-Jones-Author-Page-400960520088267/

https://twitter.com/authoraj66

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13931915.A_J_Griffiths_Jones

 

Author interview, Chloe Hammond

Welcome all.

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Chloe Hammond

Hi Chloe. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

1.   When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

My primary school teacher read us a poem when I was seven, about dragonflies, and I was enthralled by how the words painted such a clear picture. Reading and writing don’t come easily to me, but after that I was addicted, and playing with words became my favourite pastime, after reading.

2.   What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I have a dream that I can afford to support myself and my husband and pets from my writing, and we live in a lovely little home by the coast in France or Spain- I love the sun. I write a book a year or so, which while whisking my readers away on an adventure, also opens doors in their minds to new possibilities. I have a little separate annex where I offer writers retreats, offering peace and support for fellow writers. I have views over fields of sunflowers and vines, over a pretty town, and in the distance, the sea.

3.   Which writers inspire you?

Barbara Kingsolver brings huge social history issues to the fore, by telling stories about the minutiae of ordinary people’s lives; Terry Pratchett told so many truths about this world and real people in his stories about made up worlds and peoples. He took the ancient route of retelling old stories, which access the lessons in them that we’ve forgotten. Finally, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who explores ancient folk and fairy stories, tracing their oldest roots, before Grimm and Disney prettied them up, and explores the essential truths they contain that we women, especially, benefit from learning.

4.   So, what have you written? I have only been writing properly for about three years, since I developed anxiety and depression, and it has to fit around a full time job, house renovation, husband, etc, so I haven’t written as much as I would like. I self-published my first novel, Darkly Dreaming, Book 1 of The Darkly Vampire Trilogy about 18months ago. I’ve also had two poems accepted in two Cake and Quill charity anthologies.

5.   What are you working on at the minute?

I am working on Darkly Dancing, Book 2 of The Vampire Trilogy, and really hope to be able to publish it for Halloween this year. I am also polishing a short zombie story for Stirling Roberts Publishing’s competition, and really hope it will win a place in their anthology.

6.   Why do you write?

I love words. I love the way I can have a day dream or nightmare, and imagine an exciting story, then with carefully placed symbols I can encourage you to experience those same, or at least very similar, feelings. I studied creative writing as part of my degree twenty odd years ago, but after graduation it was always something I was going to do tomorrow, when the timing was perfect, so I could sit down and plan it all, and write the perfect literary masterpiece. By setting up such grand plans I didn’t write at all, apart from the occasional poem to make sense of my own feelings. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recognised I had to allow my creative side to breathe again, so I just started writing. I didn’t worry about it being perfect, I just wrote what I enjoyed writing, honed that to the best it could be, and hoped other people would enjoy reading it.

7.   Where do your ideas come from?

Symptoms of the anxiety and depression included lots of terrifying nightmares, largely about vampires. I started writing these scenes, and then created the story around it. Once I did, my characters introduced themselves to me, and quickly developed lives of their own, and very demanding personalities!

8.   Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

No, it was planning to do all the plotting and outlining which became a big hurdle for me. I start each writing session with an approximate idea where I want the story to go, but Rae and Layla will come along and totally take over so the story gets a whole other slant I wasn’t expecting.

9.   How do you think you’ve evolved creatively

I can see the difference in my own writing between when I first started, and my more current writing. It flows more easily and is richer, even too me as the writer. Like any skill set it develops and strengthens with use.

10.  What is the hardest and easiest things about writing?

I hate marketing and self-promotion. It does not come naturally to me at all. One day I will earn enough to hire someone to do that side of things for me. However, I do love chatting with readers and other writers, either face to face or online, if that was all that I had to do, I’d be delighted.

11.  Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I am utterly addicted to reading, I read every day. When I lived in France for 6 months in the 90’s I couldn’t find any books in English initially, so I ended up reading the sports pages in a week old Broadsheet newspaper, and I hate sports. Eventually I found a shop that sold the classics for 99p, so I ended up reading a lot more classic literature than IO would have otherwise. I love Deborah Harkness, she’s my favourite fantasy author, Pratchett and Kingsolver as I said above, and some of the old American classic authors, like Zora Neale Hurston who writes like she’s in the room talking to you. The books I like best are the ones that offer more than just a story.

12.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I’m a bit of a perfectionist; I wanted my cover art, website, etc, to be exactly how I wanted them. I hate it when people don’t quite have the same vision as me, and they insist on doing things there way, not mine. Self- publishing allows me to do things exactly how I want them, so everything reflects the inner vision I have for my ‘brand’, even if it does take longer. It’s a huge amount of work, and a steep learning curve; I’ve spent a lot of money getting a good website designed, but I’m learning new skills every day, and one day I hope to pass them on to others with my writers retreat. I may even open my own cooperative publishing house if I ever feel confident enough. I have been offered a couple of deals with small publishers, but turned them down in my determination to do it myself and learn all the lessons for myself. It may be slower this way, but it’s thorough!

13.  Do you have any advice for other budding authors?

Just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect; just get some words onto the page. You will slash and burn pages and pages later, and add and expand, and cut and paste, and change tenses and names, but first of all you need to tell yourself the story. If you worry about getting the first draft perfect, you’ll overwhelm yourself. Think of it like baking- the pummeling and kneading are essential parts of the baking process, as is resting, but you need the dough, mixed, in the bowl first.

14.  How do you relax?

Reading, cooking, and cuddling with my husband, rescue dogs, and fat senile cat while we binge on box sets like Game of Thrones, Catastrophe, and Broadchurch.

15.  What is your favourite book and why?

One? You can’t ask me to choose one! One of my favourites is the Book Thief because the delicacy of the language describing brutality and love is exquisite.

16.  Which character from any book you’ve read, would you like to be and why?

Pratchett’s Esme Weatherwax, she is one of society’s odd balls, like me, but she doesn’t give two hoots. She has her best friend, and her pets and she’s happy. I would love to be able to not care what people think in that way, it makes you much happier. I’m far too sensitive, and have to constantly monitor myself so I don’t tie myself in knots trying to please other people. I also love the idea of being able to out poker hardened sailors simply by scratching my ear.

Thanks Chloe. I love your writers retreat plan. Definitely going to steal that idea. I wish you the very best of luck.

Check back soon for more interviews. Here are Chloe’s links:

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darkly-Dreaming-Book-Vampire-Trilogy/dp/1518834388/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456321659&sr=8-1&keywords=darkly+dreaming

Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017EY1OKY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&tag=readers02-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B017EY1OKY

Small independent online bookstore Mineeye for non-Kindle users:

http://www.mineeye.co.uk/shop/fiction/darkly-dreaming/

Website: http://www.chloehammondauthor.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chloehammond111

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22449499-darkly-dreaming

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chloehammondauthor

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Darkly-Dreaming/750124258345038

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/chloehammondauthor

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/pub/chloe-hammond/91/8b6/b50

Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/102826869219440784952

Author Interview, L.B Stimson

 

Welcome all.

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing L.B. Stimson

Hi L.B. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

  1. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

I’ve always had an inclination towards writing since I was a child. I have an old notebook full of poems which I’ve never shared, maybe someday. I have a college degree in cultural anthropology, but I’ve spent most of my professional career in the communications field in business/education writing. After a life/career change I finally realized writing, in a close tie with photography, is what truly gives me fulfillment, so I decided to take the plunge with the launch of Redwood.

2.   What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To be honest, I hope it creates a source of steady, additional income. My goal is to entertain, even though my writing tends to naturally fall into the dark side of human behavior. I’d like to be remembered as a writer who created memorable characters, each with his or her own frailties and strengths.

3.   Which writers inspire you?

I am blessed to have met a lot of authors since starting this journey who are daily inspirations with their drive, creativity, and willingness to encourage and share ideas. I am generally inspired by writers of long ago–Flaubert, Ingalls-Wilder, Le Fanu due to the challenges they faced technologically to get books into print. I admire their commitment to seeing their art to fruition. More recently, I admire those well-known authors, who can keep churning out works, such as Stephen King and the story behind J.K. Rowling’s success–which teaches us to never give up on ourselves. Am I inspired by one-hit wonder authors? Not too sure, I’d like to envision that sort of success only with more books following to give this career longevity.

4.   So, what have you written?

My first attempt at a full-length novel was my personal story about my conversion to the Catholic faith. Storms of My Faith-How Battling Satan Brought Me to Christ started out as a blog/diary. I have posted excerpts on my web site. It is a deeply personal story and I am still toying with the idea of releasing it in full as an e-book.

5.   What are you working on at the minute?

I am currently working on an extension to Redwood. I had not initially planned for the book to continue into two or even three books, but I love the characters and I wanted to continue their journey. However, I haven’t yet coined it as a “trilogy” because if a reader picks up the second book, there are enough references to Redwood to offer insight into the second book’s plot. I have submitted a children’s early reader series to my publisher (the one cheery thing I’ve written). I am also working on a couple of other books: one is a YA story that chronicles the journey of a young girl in early 1800s who ends up with amazing, supernatural abilities. The other book involves a family caught up in lies, revenge, murder, and includes a paranormal twist.

6.   Why do you write?

One of the main reasons I write is because it clears away the imaginary stories I’ve always had clogging my mind.

7.   Where do your ideas come from?

That’s a difficult question. The story idea for Redwood was born in the wine aisle at Target. I was looking over various labels and happened to mention a recent ghost visitation to my fiancé and well, there you have it. On a more personal level though, my story ideas come from a wild imagination, my abilities to interact with the departed, and my interest in history.

8.   Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I am obsessive about creating timelines and family trees for my characters. Redwood takes place over the better part of 100 years and so to remain historically accurate when mentioning Prohibition, World War II, and even architecture and wine production, it was important to me to remain as historically accurate as possible. I get caught up in research and if I think I’ve missed a date, all writing comes to a stop until I’ve resolved the questionable date. I sketch out various plot ideas if I am not sure where the story is going. And, I do mean sketch, the only way I can process these thoughts is with a pen and paper.

9.   How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve definitely evolved when it comes to creating imagery. I work to make sure I “show” and do not “tell.” I think this is particularly important when creating scenes that involve ghosts. I want to make sure I respect my reader’s imagination and hopefully cause their imagination to run wild.

10.  What is the hardest and easiest things about writing?

The hardest thing for me is remaining confident in my abilities to create an original, engaging, enjoyable story. The easiest thing for me is creating characters caught up in family lies.

11.  Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I must admit, since I embarked on serious writing, I have spent more time reading the past couple of years than in year’s past. One of my favorite classic books is Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert. Another book that influenced my Redwood characters is A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Lately, I’ve been immersed in reading Sheridan Le Fanu, I absolutely love the poetic style of his ghostly writing.

12.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I feel blessed in that after two rejections from publishers for Redwood, I was offered a publishing contract with an Indie Publisher (KCL Publishing). This has been a wonderful advantage for me because while any author still has to pound the concrete and social media sites to market their work, I haven’t had to involve myself in the details of setting up the Amazon particulars for selling. That being said, I can also imagine the other side and the flexibility a self-published author retains. I enjoy having a partnership with my publisher as that extra responsibility I feel towards them for believing in my book/talents keeps me on point with writing and marketing.

13.  Do you have any advice for other budding authors?

Trust your instincts, stay true to your style, and write. Read other authors in your chosen genre, but don’t compare yourself to them. I’ve been studying the use of phrasing and descriptions by Le Fanu because I tend to write with a poetic style myself. Do not let a rejection letter send you into self-doubt, writing is an art and art is subjective.

14.  How do you relax?

Photography is my go-to creative outlet. I also spend a lot of time walking at the river bird watching, (at the ocean when possible), and you can always find me in a cemetery.

15.  What is your favourite book and why?

One of my all-time favorite books is Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson. It is the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker who was captured by Comanches as a child and went on to be the mother of Quanah Parker, a noted Comanche leader. Growing up in Idaho, I was surrounded by Native American history and this story took hold of my imagination and heart. I recently picked up the book again and noticed that the novel begins with Psalm 91, I happen to reference this exact Psalm in Redwood (coincidence)?

16.  Which character from any book you’ve read, would you like to be and why?

I admire the fortitude and self-reliance of Mary Ingles from James Alexander Thom’s novel Follow the River. Mary was a young mother who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians from her settlement in Virginia (near where I now reside). I see I am getting back to another Native American theme, but I’ve always been fascinated by the history of America’s native population and the small bloodline I have to them according to my family history. Much of my family’s history takes place across the expanse of America’s Wild West and this is most-likely influencing the setting of the YA novel I mentioned–the now abandoned silver mines of Arizona.

Thanks L.B for an in depth look into your world. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

Check back soon for more interviews.

L.B’s links are below:

http://stimsonink.wix.com/stimsonink  amazon.com/author/lbstimson

Twitter: @stimsonink

https://www.facebook.com/redwoodnovel