Posted on

Author Interview: M A Clarke Scott

M A Clarke Scott is a Chatelaine Grand Prize winner for The Art of Enchantment, first in the Life is a Journey series of romantic women’s fiction about young women abroad who discover themselves and fall in love while getting embroiled in other people’s problems. Reconcilable Differences is first in the Having It All series about professional women in Vancouver struggling to balance the challenge and fulfillment of career with the search for identity, love, family and home. She also loves to weave dramatic relationships into steampunk and cyberpunk adventures.

She’s been a telephone operator, a dental hygienist, an architect, a gerontologist and an education savings advisor, and is now affectionately known as ‘Doc Maven.’ When not writing, she meditates while hiking wooded mountain trails, does yoga and Pilates to fend off decrepitude, reads eclectically, contemplates wormholes, experiments with painting abstract expressionism, kills plants and tries not to burn dinner. Clarke Scott lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with three large men and four small mammals, all of them hairier than she. Although she knows she lives in Paradise, she still loves traveling the world in search of romance, art, good food and new story ideas.

You can read more about M A, her books and ideas that strike her fancy at http://www.maryannclarkescott.com. Join her mailing list to receive a bundle of free goodies. If you enjoy her books, please rate them and leave reviews on Amazon.

  • : I've always been a daydreamer and an avid reader. There have always been a variety of fictional people chattering away in my head, so writing fiction was a natural progression, and something I always wanted to do. The more I write, the more I see that there are ideas I revisit, dressed up in different ways. I guess that’s how my first stories evolved into series. I saw that I kept coming back to the same ideas: identity, belonging, balance, self-knowledge, empowerment. Learning to be one’s true self, even if there are reasons why you’ve been denying that, as a survival mechanism. I think this is very true to life, and I like to explore it in different ways – that turning point in a life that changes everything – and brings you closer to yourself. The universe. Authenticity, I guess. And a touch of spiritual awakening, in a vague, non-religious way. A kind of Zen thing.
  • : Sure. When I was nine, I wrote the first ten chapters of a romance novel. I think it was a bit corny, involving a sinking cruise ship, a remote tropical island and a love triangle. I lost it, but there were ideas and themes in there that I still explore, though perhaps in a more mature way. I abandoned the story to become an architect.
  • : My current work in progress is Book 2 in the Having it All series. It involved the best friends of the two main characters in Reconcilable Differences. It's an oil-and-water romance involving a career-oriented, driven architect who doesn't want a relationship or a family, and a dot.com millionaire computer geek, who doesn't want a relationship or a family. They jointly care for their best friends kids, so they end up with a relationship, and a family! Also some life lessons.
  • : Professionally, seriously, in 2005.
  • : I grew up in a small city in the interior of BC. I guess, in some ways, there was not much going on there. But the place was not so much the reason as the fact that my siblings were all grown up and gone by the time I learned to read. Also my parents were older, and didn't do much, except work. So I had loads of alone time. Maybe I would have been introverted and creative anyway, but who knows. I think that was a factor.
  • : I don't follow a schedule. More an urge. I'm a binger so I write a lot, or read a lot, or procrastinate a lot. All at once. I think there are different rooms in my head, and I can't be in more than one at a time.
  • : After Coming About is complete, which should be soon, I'll be polishing Book 2 in my Life is a Journey series about young women abroad. A Forged Affair is almost complete, but I've been thinking about it, and I think I'm going to add a bunch of chapters from a second point of view, so there's a bit of work to be done on that one.
  • : Reading, of course. Exercising. I like to do Pilates and yoga, and hike in the woods. I like to cook, but mostly when I don't have to. For special occasions and entertaining friends. I love to travel, and eat and look at art, architecture, museums, history. I watch movies and binge watch series.
  • : The more I mature as a writer, the more planning I do for a book. I'm rather passionate about story structure, and have read many books about it. So over time I've amalgamated many ideas into my own architecture. I'm very interested now in the heroine's journey, and studying it in detail, studying exemplars, and using this archetypal and mythical structure to explore and express ideas in my books. So nowadays, I do a lot of note-taking, planning and outlining before I begin to write. I find it more efficient, and actually inspires my stories and helps me to problem solve.
  • : I love Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and several contemporary and historical romance and women's fiction authors. Some of my favourite's include Barbara O'Neal, Mary Balogh, Suzanna Kearsley, Suzanne Brockman, Jane Ann Krentz, Freya North, JoJo Moyes, Emily Giffin, Jennifer Crusie, Eleanor Brown, Laura Kinsale, Elizabeth Hoyt. They are all brilliant writers, who sweep me away, inspire me and teach me. My favourite SF authors include William Gibson, Neil Stephenson, Robert Sawyer and Lois McMaster Bujold. I also admire Khaled Hosseini, Peter Carey, Janette Turner Hospital, Carol Shields, Michael Ondatje, Ian McEwen, J K Rowling, Mary Novak, Barbara Gowdy, and many, many others.
  • : At the moment, I am lucky to be "just" a writer. But these days that also means I'm a publisher, book marketer and promoter. In the past, I've been an architect and an environmental gerontologist. I've had many jobs in passing, in finance, journalism, research, and odd jobs as a student. I've worked in libraries, on nurseries, as a telephone operator, a dental assistant and a gas jockey.
  • : For many years I've used my iPad. It's getting old and sick though, so I'm considering switching to a newer, bigger phone as an e-reader. And/or maybe a small Kindle with e-ink, so I can read outdoors and limit blue light and eye fatigue.
  • : Hah. Because I come from a design background, I'm a very involved, you could say meddling, high-maintenance client. I'm lucky to have a very talented and patient cover designer. But that doesn't stop me from studying the art, taking courses and thinking about doing more of it myself. I'm kind of a typography geek, and so hard to please on that count. Very picky about details and spacing. I figure maybe I should just add that to my list of careers. But, to answer the question, I think cover designs should convey the proper genre to the right readers, be evocative of mood, location, character and theme. Be colourful - I love colour and eye-catching. And if the books are part of a series, convey that through consistent layout and graphic design as well.
  • : See my answer on process above!
  • : Being in the zone. When I know my characters well and immerse myself in their world, their story, and the words just flow from my subconscious onto the page. In those moments, I feel like I'm channelling something bigger than myself, and am part of something universal. And also doing the thing I'm meant to be doing in this life. I especially love when patterns, symbols and connections come out of me that I didn't labour over. Serendipitous things that add layers of meaning and artistry to my stories. And when the sound of the words is beautiful, or the pictures I paint with my words are evocative and moving.
  • : My website: http://www.maryannclarkescott.com. Everything's there: buy links, synopses. Sign up for my email list to get a bundle of free reads, including deleted scenes, sneak previews and short stories.
  • : Live long and prosper. But, with feels. Lots of feels.
Posted on

Author Interview: Annette Oppenlander

As a historical novelist, Annette Oppenlander loves weaving people, settings and interesting past events into a rich and adventurous tapestry. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she shares her knowledge through writing workshops and indulges her old mutt, Mocha. In her spare time she travels around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories. The mother of three ‘former’ teens, Annette lives with her husband in Bloomington, Ind.

  • : 'Surviving the Fatherland' took me 15 years to write. Growing up I always felt there were a lot of stories hidden in my family. I’d hear bits and pieces, quick references or watch my parents nod at each other in silent understanding. As my interest in history grew, my curiosity grew with it. So in 2002 I asked my parents to share their stories. I spent several weeks visiting them in Germany and recording their memories. I remember one afternoon we were in the basement while my mother ironed. I’d ask questions and she’d tell me about the way her mother treated her. I still have those tapes though it’s hard for me to hear my mother’s voice. She passed away in 2004. My mother always insisted that my father was the better storyteller. And while I agree that his activities were quite adventurous, my mother’s quieter side offered a lot of depth. And so I think the two characters balance each other out nicely. Initially, I had planned to write short stories so my children could remember their grandparents. But then I realized there were few if any stories about Germany’s war children and the civilian side of WWII. Of course, we have excellent and moving stories about the Holocaust and the soldier’s war. There is no shortage of battle scenes. Yet, many battles were fought at home. They weren’t drawing as much attention, but they were just as heroic. I wanted to add complexity to the stereotypical portrayal of Germany in the Third Reich.
  • : I have a couple of manuscripts in the works. One is set during the American Civil War and tells the story of a farm boy and his best friend, a slave. Best friends, they get torn apart by a horrible accident and must each find their way through the war and eventually back to together. The second manuscript is set during prohibition and has a female protagonist, Sam, short for Samantha. She is your regular tomboy and lives in a tenement in Cincinnati with her mother. I've got about 20% of the first draft done. So it's going to be a while.
  • : Of course, I read a lot and widely. I also love walking my dog, hanging out with friends and my husband, by best friend of 30 years. I enjoy traveling to various places in Europe and around the U.S. because I always find new interesting historical tidbits that could potentially turn into a story.
  • : I typically write in the mornings at my desk in my office. No music, no distractions. In the afternoons I edit and do marketing.
  • : I'd say don't skimp on the cover and get a professional designer. Nothing is worse than a 'homemade' cover. It'll turn readers off.
  • : I'm a pantser. I typically have an idea who my protagonist is. In fact, I do a detailed bio on him or her and try to get to know him/her well before I start. S/he always surprises me along the way, though. I also know the setting. As a historical novelist I study the era in great detail before setting out with the story. The story itself is written without outline and sort of flows wherever my brain takes it.
  • : I love the creative freedom, the way my characters come to live. I also enjoy how writing/creating makes me feel and when people tell me how much they enjoy my stories and that they were 'right there.'
  • : You can find me on all major retail sites and these websites: http://www.annetteoppenlander.com https://www.facebook.com/annetteoppenlanderauthor https://www.twitter/aoppenlander
  • : Thank you for reading my stories! I so appreciate it and hope I can enrich your life in some way.
Posted on

Author Interview: Sue Lilley

After being a secret scribbler for years, Sue Lilley has two published novels – ANOTHER SUMMER and HIGH HOPES. Her practical exterior hides the soul of a daydreamer and compulsive people watcher. When she isn’t escaping somewhere else in her imagination, she lives in the north east of England, a few miles from the stunning Northumberland coastline and the famous Alnwick Castle, last seen in Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter movies. She’s been married to Michael, an artist and fellow creative spirit, for more years than they’re brave enough to count. They have one daughter and a beautiful new baby granddaughter, which makes them sound very grown-up.

  • : High Hopes is my second novel. I’ve long had a fascination for secrets, how people go to great lengths to hide things and what happens when the truth comes out. In High Hopes, three old friends are confronted with a secret from twenty years ago. An adopted child traces her birth mother. The father knows nothing about her and when the truth is revealed, it rocks them to the core. They think they know everything about each other but are shocked to uncover jealousy and hurt simmering beneath the surface. High Hopes is the name of a place in the book and also represents the theme of having “high hopes” for the future.
  • : As I have a full-time job, I write mainly at weekends. During the week, I mull over the next bit of the plot so I’m ready to go as soon as I sit down at my computer. I walk around with a notebook and a purple pen, working out my next scene. I have become that mad woman talking to herself on the bus.
  • : I’m writing my third novel which is about a dispute over an inheritance. I’m also polishing a few short stories for readers to enjoy with a quick coffee. All my work is stand-alone, although I do seem to have developed a common theme of placing a house at the centre of my stories.
  • : As I have a full-time job and a lovely family, fitting in quality writing time requires forward planning and a tendency towards anti-social behaviour. This does not come naturally to a closet rock-chick like myself. I like a bit of fair-weather gardening to clear my head, whenever I can fit it in.
  • : I tend to write in scenes which are mostly dialogue. In my next draft, I add in the setting and necessary explanation of what’s going on. I then formulate it all into chapters with enticing breaks to keep the reader hooked. My primary aim is entertainment and escapism. I think of myself as writing “commuter fiction” – short chapters that can be read whenever the reader has ten minutes to spare. I try hard to make my characters realistic. I want them to have human dilemmas and to make mistakes. The situations I write about are also real-life but hopefully without the boring bits.
  • : If I was ever stranded on a desert island, I’d want Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Scruples by Judith Krantz and something to get my teeth into, like any of the big and fabulous dramas from Penny Vincenci. My all-time favourite novel is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I had it in hardback and read it so many times over the years, it fell to bits and I had to buy another copy. Obviously before the days of the Kindle. I love everything about it – the wonderful characters, the sense of family history, the vivid setting. I suspect her writing inspired my lasting love of Cornwall, which features in both of my own novels.
  • : I’ve mostly had office jobs – hotbeds of intrigue for romantic dramas! I currently work for an organisation who awards lottery funding to good causes. It’s a nice reason to get out of bed but turning people down can be difficult as there’s never enough money to go round.
  • : I was a late convert but I chose the Kindle Paperwhite.
  • : I buy pre-made covers which have the same feel as my story. I make sure the branding is consistent when it comes to colour and font. I did change the hair colour of my character in Painting Rainbows as I liked the cover so much.
  • : I like a brief outline so I know where I’m going and why I’m going there. But other than that, the fun is in making it up as I go along. My problem is knowing when to stop! I love everything about writing and editing. I always want to polish and tweak until I drive myself mad. When I start waking up in the middle of the night because I’ve dreamed about one perfect word, I know it’s time to let it go.
  • : I write what I love because if I don’t love it, who else will? Writing is my therapy and not as expensive as buying shoes.
  • : They’re all available from Amazon. My website has all the details: http://www.suelilley.com.
  • : I write contemporary romantic dramas with some grit and a fair bit of steam. I’m confident my novels are well-written and entertaining reads. I’ve always believed a writer is what you are, not what you become.
Posted on

Author Interview: jean claude dehmel II

Jean-Claude Dehmel II was born in Vallejo, California to an All-American mother of Anglo-Irish
ancestry and a French immigrant who abandoned the family before Dehmel was out of the mother’s womb. Despite great odds Mr. Dehmel went to college (Humboldt State University) where he studied Mathematics and later law school (University at Buffalo). In 2004 he moved to mainland China to take up a teaching position at Liaoning Institute of Technology in Jinzhou, China. It was there he met his wife Li Xiao Bai. The marriage lasted three years. Mr. Dehmel has no children. He is the happy owner of a Pit Bull/Black lab mix. He has been a licensed attorney in Connecticut since 2009 but has little to no interest in practicing law.

He is the author of three other books: Poetry for the Lovelorn, Notes from an American Jail and
The House that Vivian Built.

  • : I just felt like I need to write one day and so started writing.
  • : Hmm... Kinky book.
  • : That's quite a story. I was locked up in the county klink on a public intoxication charge for two months. I started keeping notes because 1) I knew it would make for an interesting read and 3) It was good habit to cope with the stress.
  • : Poetry when I was 19.
  • : SF bay area and Sacramento Valley. The cosmopolitan nature of California exposed me to a wide variety of people and lifestyles.
  • : Evening, night.
  • : Political autobiography.
  • : I don't spend much time writing. I've been chronically unemployed for years. I sleep in. Listen to the radio, daydream, play with my dog. Daydreaming and escapism.
  • : Depends on subject matter. I make mental notes to develop plot direction. The jail house chronicle was straightforward. Poetry is more complicated and slow going.
  • : Don't have favorite books.
  • : English teacher, security guard, immigration lawyer. Plus all the little jobs since a child, you know, all american boy stuff: paper route, mow lawns, fast food etc.
  • : I like books.
  • : I use Canva.
  • : No outline.
  • : Reading the work after not looking at it for months. By then I have forgotten what I wrote and it looks new and interesting to me. I am impressed by myself.
  • : http://booklife.com/profile/jean-claude-dehmel-15097 amazon.com/author/jeanclaudedehmel https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59618529-jean-claude-dehmel-ii https://plus.google.com/u/0/110716936144009239632 https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59618529-jean-claude-dehmel-ii https://bestindiebooks.com/1/shop/fiction/my-blue-heaven/
  • : Not really. Thanks for reading.
Posted on

Author Interview: Kyle Robertson

Kyle was in sales for 21 years. He spanned from a telemarketer to a product trainer. His product knowledge was vast. It spanned from replacement windows to home maintenance equipment, with automobiles, and many electronics thrown in. He could tell you the difference between a veractor, and detant tuner, and even what they were. He went into military Intelligence when he graduated from high school, and had to know all NATO, and Warsaw Pact vehicles. He had many stories from the military, and many he made up.

He also drew comics in high school, and made up intriguing characters. Once he lost most of his sight to Diabetic Retonapathy, he continued his stories in book form.

  • : When I was in high shcool, I was a nerdy movie, and comic book nut. Those stories took me away from the mundane. I drew well, and wanted to become a comic book artist. I even began to make my own comic books. My friends actually enjoyed my figments. The bug of entertainment crept into my mind. When I graduated, I went into the military, and after my stint in the Army, I worked to take care of my new family. My dreams were put on hold. After working 21 years straight, diabetes type 2 began to hinder my performance. It began with hindering my sight, and destroyed my kidneys. After I got my transplant, my condition, and the government told me I couldn't work anymore, let alone drive. I got depressed. After working for so long, I became what prisoners call 'institutionalized'. I couldn't do what I was good at. That's when the creative spark came back. I began writing to ward off my depression. I started with one of my comic characters, and grew from there. Writing is much more complicated than drawing a high school comic book, so I began to learn. I think I know enough now to be dangerous, but I always want to learn more. My influences are Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Phillip K. Dick, Stephen King, Peter Straub, And George Orwell. I just hope to come anywhere close to their talent.
  • : My first story I crafted was a fictional, futuristic bounty hunter. It was a story I created in 1984 in high school. I just adapted it to a more modern time, but the overall gist was still there. I just had to let it mature for this time. Remember, social media didn't exist then let alone the World Wide Web.
  • : I write fiction tales. I began with science fiction, but I have expanded. My latest tale is called Wrong Step: A Sinister Syndicate Thriller. It's about an African emigrant in Nw York becoming an investigative photographer. Her friend asked her to take pictures of her, and her new beau so a detective could run her boyfriend. She accepted. As she tool pictures, she found out he was with a Jamaican posse, and her friend was shot. She screamed, was found out, and a deadly chase ensued through New York. It's a wild adventure.
  • : I drew my own comics in 1984, but I actually began to write books in 2008.
  • : I was born in Baton Rouge LA, but grew up in Milwaukee WI. I learned everything from there. Culture, sports, and diverse character idiosyncrasies. I listened to dialects, and learned many customs. After my stint in the military, my interests expanded. That is the fuel for my imagination..
  • : I have a schedule. I write my mandatory 5 minutes every day in the morning before lunch when I don't have a new project. It keeps you limber. If you don't use your skill, you can lose it. When I was in Germany in '90, I spoke German, but since I had no one to speak to in America, I forgot the words, and grammar. I never used it, so I lost it.
  • : I'm a fiction writer. When writing fiction, you get ideas. I've written 13 books since the beginning of 2014. I have to get another idea, so I'm on hiatus until creativity knocks. You have to feel your art. If you don't feel it, your work suffers without any soul. I won't short my fans because they just want another story. When I get a plausible idea, I go full fledged.
  • : I'm an entertainment, and political nut, so I watch movies, and politics. I'm boring, so Wikipedia excites me. I learn things I never really knew fully. When I know a subject, I write a story about. I was in sales, and we have a saying of knowing your ABCs. Always Be Closing. I've adapted that letter nomenclature to my new vocation. Instead of ABCs, it's ABLs, Always Be Learning.
  • : When I write a story, my process consists of listening to music first. I'm not speaking of certain artists you enjoy. My music is my new book's soundtrack. I go from Gustav Holst to Cibo Matto to Metallica to Thomas Dolby, to even Angela Winbush. Then I create an outline of the story initially. After that, I break down each chapter to insert important elements. After the initial outline is finished, I follow the outline. That process kills writers block, and keeps you going. My motivation is writing the next page because I haven't read that book yet, and to finish it, I have to write it.
  • : 1984 is one of my favorite books. It was made in 1949, and it was futuristic to George then. Mister Orwell trained his imagination to be able to transcend actual time. I was 14 when the books dystopian environment was crafted, but we're still here. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Phillip Kindred Dick was a visionary, and showed me how powerful imagination could be. The Stand. Stephen King wrote an amazing opus. It was a monster unabridged. I read it in high school without any coercion. He showed me the page count doesn't matter if your story's intriguing.
  • : I used to be in sales. I ranged from window replacement to electronics to luxury cars to software sales. I learned my craft well, and even wrote training manuals, and newsletters. I was what was called an unconscious competent I didn't really know how much I knew. Since I was good at selling for someone else, why not make a good product to sell for myself?.
  • : I use versions of the Kindle. Either on my computer or cellphone.
  • : I search for certain images online royalty free, and send them to my designer Vikiana. She designs my overs.
  • : As I wrote above, an outline is part of my process. Whenever you just "let it flow", you can come against literary boulders in your writing stream. Doing an outline is your proverbial Asteroids video game. It clears the screen until your next book round.
  • : Provoking emotion to any of your creations. If a person feels sad, bad or elated for one of your characters, that means you've connected with that person. If someone actually cares for one of your figments, you have done your job.
  • : This is my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/kylerobertson_fiction My eBooks range from free to $2.99. I never wanted to be a millionaire with my writing, so you can enjoy my tales for less than a movie ticket, and my stories are deeper than a movie.
  • : When I began my sales career after the Army, I wanted to excel in my profession. After my health became suspect, I had to keep going. My childhood friend I just reconnected with told me he thought I was doing this from jump because he loved my stories. I'm glad I opened my door, and my talent was patiently waiting for me to feed it. My talent was hungry so I'm still, and always will be feeding it.