Sandra Bass Joines is a sweet lady I met through One Stop Fiction. Sandra has written a book on spine surgery recovery and a romantic suspense novel called Tears of Sand. Earlier this year, she has published her second romantic suspense novel called Shoe in the Road. It’s a story about a woman finding a shoe in the road. Oh, and about finding true love after leaving a cheating husband and a suspenseful road trip. Let’s talk to Sandra to find out more about this strangely titled novel!
Sandra Bass Joines
Thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to share a little about my latest novel SHOE IN THE ROAD and how it came about.
It’s a strange title. Can you tell us how you got it?
Titles come to my mind before stories do. The title for this last novel, for instance, popped into my mind one day when I saw a shoe in the middle of the road. I thought that would be an interesting name for a book – shoe in the road. I had no idea what it would be about or anything regarding characters. I sat at my computer one day and typed Shoe in the Road on the first page. I then closed my eyes and listened (I try to listen, not think). At this point, the idea presented itself to have a shoe influence the lives of the heroine and hero.
So, after you had the title, how did you come up with the story?
The story pretty much wrote itself. Well, I have to give some credit to the heroine’s conversations with her deceased grandmother’s ashes (don’t worry, they were in an urn) and an ornery cat who invited himself into the story. I’m a southern girl who can spin quite a yarn. Therefore, it seemed logical that a girl running from a controlling, cheating husband would certainly be more interesting escaping in a 1960 Coupe de Ville convertible named Gussie than in a traditional vehicle.
Why did you use this setting for your novel?
A showdown between Boston Calbreth, the heroine, and her husband made sense to happen in a place I have heard scary stories about all my life. Tales of people going into Tate’s Hell Swamp and never coming out have been passed down from one generation to the next.
How long did you take to write the story?
It took six weeks to write the novel and a year for revising and editing. I have more stories in my head than I have time to write. I plan to put as many as possible on paper.
How did you experience the launch of your book?
I did a launch using a four-day free promotion and a four-day ninety-nine cent promotion before raising the book to full price. So far, everything has been running smoothly. Each time I make a scheduled change, I am afraid of doing it incorrectly or concerned that Amazon or one of the promotion companies will not come through. I am enjoying the ride, and am grateful to all the wonderful people who are supporting me.
Sorry everybody, as Sandra’s book was launched in February 2018, the discounts no longer apply. I’m sure Sandra will bring the price down now and again, though 🙂 .
Sandra Bass Joines’s books are available on Amazon.
You can follow her via the following social media:
I met Craig Wainwright on Twitter (where I meet most of the authors I interview). He was talking about a big reveal and ramped the suspension up enough to peak my interest. I was dying to find out what he was talking about! His first book, The Lost Titan, launched yesterday, and Craig’s going to reveal his big secret in this interview, so quickly continue reading…
I’m normally a reserved, middle of the road, kind of guy, whose always been geeky about Sci-Fi. When I got married, I warned Diane, my long suffering wife, that there would be three people in our relationship: me, her and the Doctor (big Doctor Who fan you see). Nowadays, the Doctor and Diane often pop out and leave me busily tapping away on the keyboard, only to return before I miss them – it’s a time travelling thing, I’ve been told…
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Terrance Dicks, by a long way. To date he is still the longest serving Doctor Who script editor there’s been (1969 – 1974), wrote some cracking stories for the TV series and then topped that by writing the lion’s share of the Doctor Who range of Target books. What a guy.
Of course, being a cheeky Doctor Who fan when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to invite him round to my house when meeting him at a signing. To my amazement he agreed. At the time I was a member of the local Doctor Who group and so I quickly organised a sponsored “Stay Awake” event for the visit. Terrance got the proceedings going, with an auction and stayed for a couple of hours afterwards to chat with us.
Then I asked the typical fan question: ‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?’ His answer was the obvious one, but it stuck in my mind because he’s such a lovely bloke. ‘Just write it,’ he said. Succinct, concise and to the point. The answer hit home.
We raised £600 for Cancer Research that day, and am proud of the fact.
What made you want to become a writer?
An urge to tell stories about characters which have lived with me since I was 10. I’ve needed to do this for a number of years and have had various failed attempts since 1989 to get the job done. The thought of dying before I’d managed to let everyone know about these wonderful characters and the situations they find themselves in, mortified me. Morbid I know, but it’s true, and since I’m not getting any younger, I knew I had to do it sooner rather than later to have any chance of getting book 5 written.
That moment when a character says something and you think that they have suddenly just come alive during that moment. It’s a magical time. Then, as the book takes its course, these people go on their journey. You see them grow and, by the end of the book, after all the twists and turns in the plot, they come out different people – as anyone would. With my style of writing, with the plot driving things forward and not the characters, this development does add an extra dynamic which can enhance the story.
On the flip side, I hate writing the first draft. I find the whole process painful and really hard work. But after that hurt, building on the original draft, the process suddenly becomes enjoyable because it then becomes a time of discovery. This happened with Book 1, were several things happened in the first five chapters and by the tenth I thought, ‘There have to be some consequences here’, and so the court scene was born. One of my beta readers loved that scene, as I do, because the hero shows he’s not just a physically powerful individual, but also a clever one as well. A fact which will become more important as the series progresses.
What genre do you consider your book(s) to be? Have you considered writing in another genre?
That’s an interesting question because this series is multi genre: Book 1, The Last Titan, is Sci-Fi with a strong super hero facet to it, bringing in the fantastical element. Because I plan to the nth degree, I know Book 2, The Last Titan: Titan’s Quest, will leave Sci-Fi behind and become purely Fantasy, with large dollops of horror towards the end. Book 3 leans more towards Horror with Fantasy elements embedded within it. I see this as being a very dark book and only hope I can pull it off as Horror isn’t my genre of choice. Strangely, and having just said that, these books cry out for the darker writing to add to the growing menace. Book 4 will return to straight Fantasy again. That’s just series 1. Series 2 will be different again in structure and feel, but that’s a long way off…
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
These books are about ten races of people who need one another to survive, for them racial tension never existed until one man brought with him intolerance and hate. With his coming terrible acts of violence followed. When such a scenario enters a society which seems utopian, we would often find a very fertile breeding ground for the evil to grow.
The motto, I suppose. is that we need to spot this type of person when they get into power and deal with them quickly. We don’t want another Hitler and we definitely don’t want another world war.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
That’s easy. This was for Book 2, which I’m writing now, and it’s the melting point of Quartz. It starts melting at around 600c, if you’re interested.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The overall process of research for the book has been mainly passive, since I’m quite well read when it comes to the history and literature of Ancient Greece. I spent a few nights researching the Chernobyl accident and got an understanding of how it happened and how the reactor was designed. It turned out in the end most of that research wasn’t used in the book. I also did quite a bit of research on Mauy Thai, since the hero is a an expert in the martial art. I checked out a few websites and bought a couple of VHS (yes VHS) tapes and sat down and watched them, taking a few notes.
Regarding much lighter research I spent a bit of time finding the right stars which might have Hellas orbiting them. They ended up being in Ursa Major and they’re a true binary system called Gliese 412. These stars are red dwarfs and one is much smaller than the other. However, every now and again this smaller star becomes much brighter than its neighbour, which fits beatifully with one of the background Mythos I’ve already written. I won’t say any more because I plan to bring the Mythos out as anthologies eventually. Maybe even bringing the first one out before The Last Titan 2.
Loads of stuff. The bulk of it centred around a narrator and two children who would ask him questions about the action in the preceding chapters. These guys discussed pertinent points which I felt needed further explanation but couldn’t fitted in the story any other way. This allowed me to bring in several background stories (one of which tied in with the end of the book beautifully). When I later looked at these sections, I had to admit they had become somewhat redundant as I grasped the mechanics of writing a novel and the need to save space added further reasons to chop these sections anyway.
Interestingly, there was also an alternative chapter 8 which introduced the character of Jimmy (a tramp) and it described Omicron (the female villain) conducting horrific experiments on his two friends. This was made redundant when Jimmy informs a character later on what he saw, and rather than taking fifteen pages to get this across it took three paragraphs to explain it instead. The chapter also had a very different version of Jimmy; he was a more crotchety character. I prefer the character he’s evolved into because he’s a much more approachable, comical character – to the betterment of the whole series I think.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I like to leave little markers which might hint at what’s be coming: a little comment here, somebody saying something there. That sort of thing.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think some writers maybe tend to accept their lot and don’t try to push for the best they deserve. My advice is to be ambitious and adventurous in your plans, be cheeky and ask the questions to get what you want when it comes to publishing and publicity. You don’t get unless you ask in this world, unfortunately.
From the above you can tell that I’m very ambitious, maybe more than my talent deserves, but I’ve known what I want from the start and I’ve pushed to get it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, then other times it does and I’ve ended up doing business with some wonderful people who wanted me to succeed because they saw my drive and determination. Chris Grant (the voice over artist for the ad) put in an email to me: “So, go get’em Giant Killer.” A comment which sums up what I’m trying to achieve with this first book – break through and get established quickly. I dearly want these characters to be remembered and loved even. If I fail, well, at least I tried. If I succeed, then book 8 would most definitely be on the cards
The only other thing I can say is love your subject matter and let it draw you in. Some writers are mechanical in their execution of prose. Get involved with it. I’ve had a love affair with my characters since I was a kid and they’re so clear in my head now, they’ve become like old friends. If you are detached from the work, it’ll reflect in it and your characters will end up being distant at best and uninteresting at worst. Get into their heads, understand them, and the characters will write themselves.
So… what’s your big reveal?
As mentioned earlier, I have a book trailer/ad. Apart from promoting the book via an interview and review in Starburst (a British Science Fiction Magazine), followed by the ad in SFX (a British Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine) and Starburst for three months and a small ad on Doctor Who Online, it is also going to be… on TV! The book trailer will be shown on Sky1 and Syfy from August the 23rd for two weeks!
Wow! That is so awesome! I bet every writer is incredibly jealous now. I certainly am. You do dream big, and I applaud you for it! I wish you all the best with your launch, Craig, and hope your book sales sky-rocket!
Craig Wainwright’s book is available NOW on Amazon, and you can watch the trailer on his website. You can contact Craig through Twitter.
I finally had some time to update the trailer for Killing A Vampire! Well, I had to as it was in my pre-order form for the Darker Side of Fiction book fair, and I had to hand the form in 😀 . I still haven’t finalized the form as I need to figure out what the price for the Prequel and my Short Shockers books are. For this, I need to upload them on IngramSpark first. So I’m working my ass off to get this done! In the meantime, enjoy the trailer again!
Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! Mark is promoting his new book, Blue Murder, in the Tyler & Mills crime series. I’ve interviewed Mark again recently, and you can read the interview here.
Mark has been kind enough to give me a copy of Blue Murder in advance. Here’s my review:
I received an advanced copy of Mark Fowler’s second DCI Tyler and DS Mills murder mystery novel, Blue Murder and this review is given freely. Not having read the first novel, Red Is The Colour, I found myself easily engrossed in Blue Murder (trying to finish the book during early hours of the night), enjoying the developing professional relationship between brooding DCI Jim Tyler and the sarcastically witty DS Danny Mills, and getting to know more about Tyler’s dark past.
Blue Murder sees an ex-band member, Adam, murdered. His girlfriend, Daisy, points the finger to her sister, Janine, who stole her ex-boyfriend and lead singer of the band, Johnny, from her. But there’s also Billy, the two young men’s school buddy, who had stepped in to take Adam’s place when he left the band not too long ago. Then there’s the band’s song, ‘All Colours are Blue,’ that’s becoming a hit, and money is being made. Now everybody is claiming to have written the song. Tyler and Mills have their hands full trying to figure out who’s lying about what, which is made difficult with lead singer Johnny missing since Adam’s murder.
Blue Murder is a great psychological thriller about love, fortune, and fame. Tactical interrogations are prime in this well-told story. Red herrings are strewn left, right, and center to keep you guessing. Pick up this book and you’re in for a great, keeping-you-on-your-toes detective novel!
Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! As mentioned in my interview with him last March, I’ve known Mark L. Fowler for a few years now. We both joined One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (on Facebook) when it only had a few members. Of course I said ‘yes!’ when Mark asked me to be a beta reader for his new book, Blue Murder, book 2 of the Tyler and Mills series. As I’m part of his blog tour, I’d love to give him another boost 🙂 .
Mark L. Fowler
Mark L. Fowler has five published novels under his belt, and he recently contributed one of his many short stories to the Dark Minds charity collection. Mark’s most recent book, Blue Murder, is the second in a police detective series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills. The first book to feature the detectives, Red Is The Colour, was published by Bloodhound Books last year and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. Mark is also the author of The Man Upstairs, featuring hard-boiled detective Frank Miller, and Silver, a psychological thriller. His first book, Coffin Maker, continues to defy any attempts to categorize it. All of his books can be read as stand-alone works.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Peter James. I met him at the Winchester Annual Writers’ conference many years ago. I attended his workshop and was lucky enough to have a one: one session with him, during which he looked over the opening chapter of my first novel and gave me some sound advice.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I love setting off on new adventures, not always certain of where they will take me. I love exploring new characters, watching them develop as I work on them, and finding what makes them tick.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
For me, being a writer is absolutely a gift. Yes, it is hard work, yes there are frustrations getting your books out there, but the creative part of the job, the putting pen to paper, developing storylines, creating settings, sharpening dialogue – I just love the whole business of writing.
Do you outline or just write?
A little of both. I like to have a strong idea of my main characters, and a vivid sense of place, of where the story is happening, before I begin writing. I will usually have a clear idea of the primary situation or conflict that will need to be resolved before the story can reach its ending. But detailed plotting is not something that I like to do before beginning the writing. If I had too much plot before I started the book, I would feel constrained and my characters would not have sufficient room to develop. I know writers who plot intricately before they begin a book, leaving little or nothing to chance, while others just go for it. It is whatever works for the individual writer. I’m somewhere in between.
What is your favorite genre? Why?
I read more crime fiction than any other genre, and my writing has increasingly moved that way too. I have always loved detective stories, both on the page and on screen. Most of my published work so far has been in the detective genre, one way or another, most clearly in my Tyler and Mills books and The Man Upstairs. Whilst Silver is more a psychological thriller than a classic detective novel, the main character, the writer and journalist Nick Slater, is effectively playing the role of detective, trying to get to the heart of a baffling and intriguing mystery.
What genre do you consider your latest book and have you considered writing in another genre?
Blue Murder, like its predecessor Red Is The Colour, is a British police detective novel. But the books are also historic crime, set in 2002-2003. Part of my reason for doing this was my interest in a style of policing that is a little less dependent on technology, and more about detectives going door to door, face to face. The action takes place on the streets of a North Staffordshire city, not in forensic laboratories and on computer screens. I have also written in other genres, Coffin Maker being a good example. It’s just that no-one, including the author, can quite nail the elusive genre that can define it! A lot of people really love that about the book.
What is your book about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
The sub-title of Blue Murder is: Fame. Fortune. Murder. And here lies the first clue to what the book is about. Johnny and the Swamp Seeds are a local band on the cusp of success when the singer Johnny Richards goes missing. Then the body of a young man is found in the local canal. The detectives, DCI Tyler and DS Danny Mills, not only find themselves trying to solve a baffling mystery, but at the same time their efforts appear to be doing nothing more than catapulting a now singer-less band to fame and fortune. What a lot of people most enjoyed about Red Is The Colour was the relationship, strained at times, between Tyler and Mills, and in Blue Murder I have worked hard to develop these two characters further. So the book is as much about the detectives, and also about the city in which they live and work, as it is about finding out what happened to Johnny Richards.
What gave you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for Blue Murder? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
I suppose that the inspiration for Blue Murder initially came from being in a band many years ago, though I have been careful to write a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I had the initial idea about the singer going missing at the point at which he and his band were about to break into the big time. Then I began to ask questions about why this might happen, and who might stand to gain. But once I had the basic ingredients, I didn’t want to plot any further. I wanted my detectives to do the work for me. I wanted Tyler and Mills, rather than the author, to dig into the mystery and find the truth. As far as possible, I handed the investigation over to them. After all – they are the detectives!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I wouldn’t say ‘hijack’ exactly. While giving the story over to my detectives, in one sense, I still retain the last word. This is why I like to have some idea of the shape of the story from the outset, and why theme is important – to stop the book from veering off course. Some plot developments would seem inappropriate to the story I want to tell, and this comes through experience. The more I write about Tyler and Mills, for example, the more I know when I’m on track. If characters start to act in bizarre ways that give no meaning to the story and for no good reason – if their behaviour ceases to support the theme of the book – then I know I’m getting off-track and need to pull things back. For me this would be one of the dangers of just writing a book completely from scratch, without first getting to know my characters a little bit, and where they come from and where they are heading.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have at least half a dozen completed, unpublished novels and quite a number of partially completed books too. In some cases I am simply still not satisfied with the books, and need to return to them afresh to bring them to publication. Others may never see the light of day for one reason or another. In some cases I may have set off writing them too early, without thinking about the characters, the locations and/or the basic plot sufficiently, and then getting into more of a mess than I know how to get out of. It’s all experience though, and I have learned a lot from writing some books that I know may never be read. But these days I would rather set off on my writing adventures with the knowledge that I have enough to get me through to a satisfactory ending. As a writer you never stop learning.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my books has made me think differently about the whole writing process. I am more aware these days of writing for a readership, an audience. It has made me more disciplined in my approach, asking more questions at an earlier stage in the development of an idea, and a lot less self-indulgent. When I began writing short stories, a long time ago, I used to just let my imagination soar. These days I only allow that once I have a solid base beneath. I do the groundwork first and then allow the imagination of my characters to soar. And on good days they always seem to do just that. Bless them.
Thanks again, Mark, for sharing more about your writing with us. I loved reading Blue Murder and can thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for a good crime story to read during the holidays!
For those of you who’d like to know more about Mark L. Fowler, you can follow him via:
I met Ian under the name of Devin Salesman on Twitter. His book, And the Salesman Came to Town, intrigued me. As my love for Terry Pratchett explains, I love it when stories contain a fair share of humor. Ian let me wait weeks for the image (blame was put on the Zon), but it was worth it! So, without further ado, let me introduce me to Ian Campbell, so you can also have a laugh.
I am a 53-year-old man, who is married with two adult sons – both of whom still live with me! Professionally, I am a high school English teacher. And now that I have put this on paper, I’ve realized just how boring I am. I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was still a baby my family moved to Winnipeg, where I learned the meaning of a what cold winter is! When I was young, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities in primary school, and needless to say – I was not what could be considered a model student. Let’s just say I was heavy on the hyper activity! Unfortunately, when I was 12 my mother passed away after a battle with cancer, and when I was 13 my father sent me to a military school in southern Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I spent the next 5 years at the school – consider it a reward for being a perfect child! My father during my time at school moved back to Toronto, so that I wasn’t too far away from family, and after I finished my education, I too stayed in Toronto. I worked for several years then went to York University, where I studied English Literature, and later I received my teaching qualifications from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. During this time, I started my novel And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and available on Amazon! (subtle plug, right?) I also got married, and my lovely wife and I had our aforementioned sons. As my life got busier I got away from writing, sending most of my free time with my sons. We went swimming, biked, watched moves and went to amusement parks and so much more. We were thick as thieves. My sons are still very active, they just don’t take me along anymore! I never thought I would be the 3rd wheel! Honestly they would bring me along too, but now that I’m getting older I’ve developed a bad back and cannot do all the things I used to do. Summers had become boring, and I had an idea – start my book from scratch! The rest is history – exciting NO! No, no – it really isn’t, but I have started my second untitled novel!
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Be yourself and get over yourself! The first draft of my book And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and again the – it’s available on Amazon thing, (yes, it’s plug number 2) was written about 20 years ago. I was trying to be all dark and sardonic, somewhere between Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, two of my favorite authors. Then, while I was editing the first half of the novel, a thought came to me. ‘What kind of self deluded idiot would write this kind of preachy and pretentious bull sh**!’ Let’s just say I knew it needed some revisions. The first draft was in truth complete crap, but I still thought it was overall a good idea, and never really gave up on it. And now you know why it took 20 years! Here is my advice, be yourself and get over yourself – to be an author, and you need to find you own voice! Being self critical, and being able to take criticism from others, will also help enhance your prose.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?
Obviously, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, then J. R.R. Tolkien, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Johnathan Swift, of course Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Frank Herbert, Shirley Jackson, Eric Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. I know the last one is an author of kid’s books, but tell me – who doesn’t love Harry! Really, it’s a longer list than this, but in my defence, I’m an old guy so I’ve read a lot of books.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Austin Clark. I don’t think he is that famous, but he has won some major literary awards. I don’t get out much!
What made you want to become a writer?
I love stories: books, movies, TV, plays – and of almost any genre. Although I like satire and fantasy/science fiction the best. At heart, I’m still a child! And, according to my wife, every other part of my anatomy as well.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
Everything! I wrote And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, I guess you’ve gotten the whole Amazon thing by now (plug number 3 – nice huh?) without having any idea of what I was doing. Here’s the thing though, I’m pretty sure that I still have no idea of what I’m doing.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Everything, from the outline to the rough draft, and the revisions and editing. I have to admit that I’m not very good at editing myself as I see what should be there, and in many instances, not what is there. Apparently, neither did the professional editor I hired, he left spelling and grammar mistakes for god…! Anyway, after some complaints from readers, I have put And the Salesman Came to Town, by… (Well, you know the rest by now – plug number 4!) through an online editor – but I digress. Even if I had no way of sharing my writing with others, I would still write. I love every part of it!
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
For me, a gift – absolutely a gift! I can create my own little world, and get a short reprieve from the somewhat messed up real world we live in. I’m a humour/fantasy writer, and all I can hope for is that my audience is having half as much fun reading my writing, as I have had writing it. If that is the case, in my opinion, I’ve done my job as an author!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
This cat right here. We share the same world view.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energize! As I already said I love writing, especially humour. Like my novel And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Didn’t think I’d get one more in did you? Last one, promise!)
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
Oh, very part time. As they say “Don’t give up your day job!” I would be thrilled to be able to write full-time, but at this point, being a somewhat newly self publish author – who has no idea what he is doing as far as publishing goes, I think I’ll have to keep the day job for a while. And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Okay, I lied!).
Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for writing, Ian. I’m glad to hear you’ve used an editor for your book. Yes, folks, the edited version is online now! I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it very much (although I’m terribly time deprived working on my own books, but I promise I’ll write a review when I’ve finished!).
If you wish you can follow Ian Campbell, aka Devin Salesman, on Twitter.
The devil has come to town – but this time he is the CEO of a multinational corporation. This multinational advertises a soul back guarantee for all potential customers – for their purchase of their very own dream life. A semi-alcoholic priest is anointed as – The Chosen – the one who is destined to fight off the evil, and to stop this latest incarnation of the devil. He is sent unwillingly into the battle between good and evil, and what can only be considered to be an excellently executed marketing campaign. John Murdock, a self described crappy priest and aforementioned semi-alcoholic, wakes one morning to a radio commercial outlining the benefits of buying one’s own dream life for the low – low price of their soul. He sincerely hopes that the commercial is a bad joke made by the radio station, or at least a hangover induced hallucination. But finds out to his dismay that it is all real, and that it is his job to fight the devil incarnate, or more accurately stated – the devil incorporated.
Charles E. Yallowitz is the author of the Legends of Windemere novels (fifteen books already!) as well as various other novels. The covers of his Windemere books attracted me as I retweeted them on Twitter, but, being a vampire-lover, his new WIP War of Nytefall – Loyalty made me contact him for an interview.
Charles Edward Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
If I want to be technical, it was in 2nd grade and I wrote a picture story called Hunt for the Ruby Monkey. This was heavily based on King Kong, but I was trying to show characters and build tension without knowing it. This was a gift for a friend, so I don’t have it anymore. Prior to this I was writing little books that involved jokes, my week, or animals.
Since I didn’t really know what I was doing during this attempt, I would say the real first story of mine would be Immortal Wars: The Summoning. I was in high school and decided that I was going to be an author. One of my favorite things to do was read comic books, so I went with superheroes. It was about four teenagers who discover they are immortals and need to protect the universe from a band of evil immortals who are about to return. Each character had a magical weapon built on one of the nine planets. This was in the 1990’s, so Pluto hadn’t been downgraded at this point. I had an entire series planned out with the weapons switching hands, deaths, births, and any twist that came to mind. I only wrote the first book, which was ‘The Summoning’, but then I moved on to fantasy.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
It’s the cursed gift that keeps on giving. The curse part is that authors can find it hard to explain things to other people. You become very aware of spoilers, so you have to explain stories without going into the details. This can lead to confusion and the sense that nobody understands you. The gift side is that you develop this drive to create and explore worlds that you’re helping to nurture with your words. There’s a thrill to the building of a story from nothing to an intricate world that can draw others into it.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
My mood can be my personal Kryptonite. Once I’m annoyed or flustered, I lose the ability to focus on my creative thoughts. It isn’t that I have to be in a good mood to begin with, but I need to have a clear mind. Otherwise, the issues of the real world will get in the way of fiction and that doesn’t always match up. This is really hard for me because I don’t have an office or anywhere private to write. So, I’m constantly running the risk of being distracted. As far as writer’s block goes, I’m lucky that I’ve never really hit a creativity wall. If I have a problem, I walk away to work on another project and it comes to me the next time I sit down.
What is/are your book(s) about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
All of my books are exciting action adventures that can take the reader out of reality. They’re pure escapism, especially since I write in third person present tense. It’s not a common style, but it means my books read like tv shows and movies where you see things unfolding in real time instead of them being past events.
My most recent book is Quest of the Brokenhearted,which is on sale for 99 cents until the end of July. This is a spinoff of my series, Legends of Windemere, and it shows the fate of a supporting character named Kira Grasdon. Over the course of the previous adventure, this merchant house heiress lost everything and now she is struggling to survive on the streets. She learns about warriors going to Lacarsis, the City of Evil, which has begun to move. Deciding that she will either find a new reason to live or meet her death, Kira heads into the monster-filled city. This is an exciting, action-packed adventure, but it also looks into the psychology of a hero who has already been broken. Mentally, Kira is hanging on by a thread and I think this is a state that many people can understand.
Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?
I don’t feel like I have any difficulty writing female characters. I only use their gender to designate clothing to some extent, pronouns, relationships, and physical appearance. Beyond that, the abilities and personalities for a man can still be used for a woman. Both can be brave warriors, cunning thieves, or sadistic villains.
Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’m trying to find a middle ground for most of my books. Each book and series tells a self-contained story, but they take place in the same world. Every entry adds to the depth of Windemere and builds it into a playground for future heroes. This would be similar to Middle Earth or the various comic book universes.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m currently working on a fantasy vampire series that takes place in the world of Windemere. It’s called War of Nytefall and it’s my current ‘core project’ for the next 3 years. After that I have about 30 other series and one-shot stories that I’ve been outlining over the last 15 years.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
The most useful thing I learned when it came to writing was that I had to write what I loved. If I enjoyed the story that I was working on then that would come through and the readers will have a better experience. The most destructive lesson that I learned nearly cost me the first book of my Legends of Windemere series. I let a lot of people read it over the course of ten years and I tried to implement every suggestion that was given. This made a mess out of the entire story and even caused trouble for future volumes. It required a lot of rethinking and rewriting before I felt comfortable publishing it.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
There are a lot of common traps, but there are two that come to mind. First, there is always the temptation to respond to negative reviews. Not everyone gets the warning that you have to take the lumps in silence. This means a new author can build up the reputation of being a ‘spoiled and combative’ person. The other is the ‘Pursuit of Perfection’. I’ve known many aspiring authors who refuse to publish until their work has met this ideal of flawlessness. They will read every book they can find on the art of writing and tear their work down at the slightest mistake. In the end, they enter a cycle that they can’t get out of that seems to stop at the first draft stage at best and they eventually give up. The truth is that every story will have a flaw of some kind because it’s a human writing it.
How do author friends help you become a better writer?
Discovering the large community of authors online was like wandering into a place that feels like home. You get a level of support and insight that people who never considered being an author can’t give you. Criticism is given in a more palpable method and discussions are allowed instead of the blunt tearing apart that non-authors think are necessary. There’s also a lot of sharing of experience and tools, which helps new authors avoid some of the pitfalls. Honestly, the whole community functions better as a support structure than a pit where everyone is out for themselves.
I was supposed to see my dentist this morning, but they canceled… again. So, instead, I started on my new Young Adult novel, The Extra. I had postponed starting it for far too long. This is the first bit (not the whole chapter). It’s a new experience to write from a narrater’s perspective after writing three novels in first person. Let me know what you think of it 🙂
Ashley stormed outside, not seeing where she was going through the red fog of her rage. Freezing air swirled into her lungs, its below-zero temperature matched the cold she was already feeling inside. How could Jake have betrayed her so? The pristine surface of the snow underneath her feet creaked softly. Unlike the emotions which screamed inside Ash. Tears welled up, and she shut her eyes firmly as she marched on. She wasn’t going to cry. Not for him. Not for what he’d done. Getting away from him was the most sensible thing to do. As soon as he’d told her, something had stirred in her. Something she hadn’t felt before. It was warm… no, hot. It was hot. It had quickly grown until Ash felt like a pure form of energy. The feeling had frightened her. She had been afraid that if she stayed near Jake, she’d have lashed out at him with a power she couldn’t control. But she didn’t want to hurt him. She still loved him. Yet right now, she hated him. Ash balled her fists and brought them to her mouth. She bit on them to prevent herself from screaming out in frustration.
The sound of cracking ice made Ash open her eyes. The night was dark. There was no moon visible with the snow falling. Her head whipped around, and she realized she had gone too far. Could she make it back? Another crack. Eyes drawn down, she saw the snow break apart in lines radiating outwards. Her feet slipped on the smooth ice as it broke apart and tilted. She flung her arms out in an attempt to get a hold of something to keep her upright, finding none. Her skull cracked as it hit the edge of the remaining ice. A sharp pain radiated through her head, and Ash gasped. Icey water sloshed into her mouth. She expelled it out of her lungs with a violent burst of air. Now, as her legs became heavy with the water in her boots, her arms scurried through the snow, her hands trying to get a grip on the ice. But the cracks had undermined its strength, and every time Ash put some weight on it, it broke off and slipped from her numbed hands, bobbing up and down on the water’s surface. Ash panicked as the water made its way through her winter clothing, enveloping her body, claiming it inch by inch. The water felt like the cold fingers of death, grabbing her, pulling her down into the deep darkness with unrelenting determination. The cold and the fear were paralyzing. Her head disappeared underneath the black surface, and her body began jerking as she fought the temptation to try and breathe.
Ash wondered if anybody had seen her go under. Was anybody going to rescue her? Was she going to survive this or was this the end? Now Jake wasn’t hers anymore, did it matter? Consciously, she stopped struggling, finding peace in the cold numbness. Darkness surrounded her as the last bit of air escaped her lips, and Ashley died.
Copyrighted (c) by Jacky Dahlhaus
Yes, you read it right. Ashley dies. Not to worry, she’ll live again but not as a vampire. I knew you were going to think that, LOL! The story does include vampires, though. And werewolves, and sirens, and witches. In fact, it has so much story to it, I wonder if I can get it all into one novel 😀