Interview with Liz Cowan, Author of “The Beast Within”

Welcome, Liz. What is your new book about?

The Beast Within is a contemporary twist on Beauty and the Beast.

Crystal Belle St. James’ life is devoted to caring for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Reclusive Daniel Di Domenico may be handsome and wealthy but prefers solitude. One morning he wakes up with Bell’s palsy and becomes temporarily disfigured.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I researched Alzheimer’s on the internet and followed a fellow author whose mother suffers from dementia. Bell’s palsy: I researched on the internet and interviewed a friend who had it.

What do you like to read?

I am a voracious reader and gobble up 4-5 books per week. I read both fiction and non-fiction. My taste in fiction spans all genres. And enjoy well-written books. I also like to read non-fiction. Fiction develops the linguistic skills and non-fiction feeds the mind.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

For me the essential qualities of a good story: it must capture and hold my interest; the story must pull me in whether it is a shifter tale or a romance, and the story must have “meat” on its bones.

Have you written any other books?

I have written three novels- The Dionysus Connection, The Marathon Man, Sins of the Father, two humor books- Through the Keyhole, Fractured Proverbs and Twisted Thoughts, and I write a weekly humor column for a couple of newspapers.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Sometimes the character names just pop into my head. Or, I meet someone with a name I know I will have to use in a story. If all else fails, I have several baby name books and try to match my characters with the appropriate name (which includes the meaning of the name).

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

My favorite quote is by Albert Einstein. “The difference between stupid and genius is that genius has limits.”

What is your favorite place, real or fictional?

My favorite place is Budapest, Hungary. I was born there. Also, it is beautiful, and the history of my ancestors draws me in.

Who designed your cover?

My cover designer is Tatiana Vila. She designed all but one of my covers and is amazing.

You’re right. That’s a great cover. Where can people learn more about you and your books?

My books are available on Amazon. All but one written as Liz Cowan. Fractured Proverbs and Twisted Thoughts written as Elizabeth Cowan. You can learn more about me on my website: http://elizabethcowan.com/

Thank you for talking with us today. Best of luck with your new book!

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Interview With Susan Leigh Noble, Author of BLOOD BOND

Hi Pat. I have a new book,  Blood Bond, coming out on Feb. 6, 2018. I don’t have purchase links yet, but look for the book on Amazon in February.

Congratulations, Susan. Please tell us what your book is about.

Blood Bond is a reluctant hero story set in a fantasy world. The dragons and man had a falling out fifty years ago, but an invading army threatens them both. Soren, our reluctant hero, gets swept up in the cause when his blood and that of a dragon combine forming an unbreakable blood bond.

Tell us a little about your main characters.

The main character is Soren Blackfist. He is a bit of drifter – drifting from job to job, bar to bar and woman to woman. He thinks of himself as failure. The other main character is Dex, a red dragon. He has been tasked with finding someone to approach the King and reunite man and dragon. He finds Soren, who would rather not help.

I think of the two Soren is my favorite. You see the most changes and growth in his character.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I had the idea to write a story about a young man who meets a dragon. I had several scenes in mind when I began, but the story changed a lot so only one or two made it into the book. That is often how I begin – with just a few scenes in mind.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me nearly three years from start to finish to plan, write and edit this book. It would have taken me less time if I wasn’t so involved in my children’s schools. I am planning to get my next book out in a much short time frame.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I always am doing some sort of research for my novels, whether it is how to work with leather, concocting a poison or the layout of a castle. You can find tons of information on the Internet, but I do have a book on poisons and weapons that I also use quite often.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Baby books. I have two and go through them all the time looking for unusual names. I mean these are fantasy novels, and I cannot use names like John or Michelle. I need something fits better so you get Soren, Bevin, Quinn and Emery, which are more unique but still easy to remember.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Oh, killing off characters is hard. You created them. You know them. And even if it is necessary, you never want to kill them off. My husband, on the other hand, is always encouraging me to kill off someone, especially if there is battle involved.

What’s your writing schedule like?Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I wish I had a consistent schedule but other things such as volunteering for the Parent-Teacher Association at my kids’ schools or working for my husband’s law firm as the bookkeeper do take up some of my time. I try to write every day – usually in the mornings, but I don’t strive for a certain word count as it makes me depressed when I don’t make it. Instead, I try to set aside a certain amount of time rather than a word count.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I wouldn’t say it is my preferred time, but I find a lot of my uninterrupted time to be in the mornings before anyone has gotten up. I do like writing in the mornings while my mind is fresh and the rest of the day’s activities haven’t tried to steal away my attention.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I have always loved reading and writing. I majored in journalism in college, and while I enjoy that type of writing too, I prefer fiction.

Have you written any other books?

Blood Bond is my fifth full-length novel. I also have my fantasy trilogy The Elemental which consists of Summoned, Quietus and Destiny. I wrote a short story prequel to it called The Search. I also have another stand-alone fantasy novel, The Heir to Alexandria.

Where can people learn more about your books?

They can check out my blog – http://susanleighnoble.wordpress.com or check out my Amazon Author page – https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Leigh-Noble/e/B005HDMM4W

Thanks for chatting with us today, Susan. Best of luck with your new book!

Interview with Robert Eggleton, author of “Rarity from the Hollow”

Happy Holidays, Pat! I hope that you’re doing okay. After Christmas, the publisher is going to make the next deposit of author proceeds from the Rarity from the Hollow project into the nonprofit agency’s account for the prevention of child maltreatment. Millions of American children will spend this holiday in temporary shelters. A lot more world-wide are likely to spend their respective “holidays” in worse conditions. Having once been the director of emergency children’s shelters in West Virginia, it is still heartbreaking to think about children not having a “real” family during Christmas. I remember the faces, the smiles and thank yous for the presents from staff, but….

I also wanted you to know that the novel received a very cool review by Amazing Stories Magazine. This is my tweet: “Amusing at times, shocking at others, a touching and somehow wonderful SFF read.” Full review by Amazing Stories Magazine: http://bit.ly/2kbsAlV On Sale for Christmas: http://amzn.to/2lF5BPS Proceeds help maltreated children: www.childhswv.org

Thanks again for interviewing me.

Welcome, Robert. What is your book about?

Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, …(is) a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor….”
— Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

Rarity from the Hollow is a children’s story, for adults. It is a social science fiction novel with elements of true-love type romance, every-day horror, paranormal, and adventure. The content includes serious social commentary, comedy, and satire. Lacy Dawn is the protagonist. She occupies the body of an eleven year old, and sounds like one, but has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked.

Rarity from the Hollow is not for the fainthearted, prudish, or easily offended.

Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who’s very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth’s earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic helps her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family. At first, this story seems sooooo serious, until……. Then, through the darkness, or perhaps because of it, laugh-out-loud comedy erupts to move the plot toward an outrageous closing scene.

Saving an entire universe is a big job for anybody. It takes more than just magic. Lacy Dawn needs a team and a very strong sense of humor. First, she motivates the android into helping her fix her family by putting her foot down and flat out telling him that she won’t save the universe unless he helps her first. The android agrees to the terms. After Lacy Dawn’s father is cured of his mental health problems and stops being so mean to Lacy Dawn and her mom, Lacy Dawn next arranges for her to mother get her rotten teeth replaced, pass her GED, and to get a driver’s license. The mother feels so much better about herself that she also joins the team. By this time, the android has fallen so deeply in love with Lacy Dawn that she has him wrapped around her little finger. Add a pot head neighbour who sells marijuana and has a strong sense for business transactions, Brownie, a dog who proves to have tremendous empathy for the most vile occupants of any planet, and Faith, the ghost of Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her own father — the team is ready to embark on a very weird off-world adventure.

Of course, in preparation for the mission, Lacy Dawn has studied for hours to learn about sociology, math, economics, psychology, languages, culture and every other school subject that has a title — her brain gets so filled up with knowledge directly downloaded from a universal database that she increasingly needs the perspectives of others on her team to sort it all out. Working together, the team figures out how a few greedy capitalists had made such a mess of the entire universe and how to prevent its destruction without intentionally killing one single being.

“…You will enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn, her family and friends, but don’t expect the ride to be without a few bumps, and enough food to last you a long time.”
— Darrell Bain, Award Winning Author

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’ve dreamed of becoming a rich and famous author since winning the eighth grade short story contest in 1965. Of course, reality got in the way. Except for a couple of poems, one published in a student anthology and another published in an alternative newsletter when I was in college, I’ve started a zillion stories but finished none – until the last decade.

I earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1977 and have worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. I wrote nonfiction that was published: social service manuals, policy, grants, draft legislation, investigative reports, research, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency. Looking back, I now think that writing nonfiction took the edge off, so to speak, of my heartfelt dream to become a fiction writer.

Over the years, I my work has involved interacting with a lot of “characters” – “street” people, homeless folks, those who had mental illnesses or addictions, as well as, corporate leaders, business owners, supportive and abusive family members, governmental authorities, legislators, rich benefactors and food stamp recipients of all ages, races, genders…. If Sears still produced a catalogue, it would run out of pages before I could blurb about all of the characters inside my head. I began fictionalizing characters and fitting them into stories that were never finished.

In 2002, I started a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program Most of the kids, like myself as a child, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. Part of my job was facilitating group therapy sessions. One day at work in 2006, a few seats away from me around a table used for written therapeutic exercises sat a skinny eleven year old with stringy brown hair. This girl was inspiring to other kids, staff, and, especially to me and my dream of writing fiction. Her name became Lacy Dawn. Rather than focusing on her victimization, she spoke of dreams – finding a loving family that respected her physically and spiritually. She inspired me to make my own dream come true, to write fiction and I haven’t stopped writing since I first met her that day during a group therapy session.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

A piece of me is a part of every character in Rarity from the Hollow. I’ll give you a couple of example, but there are plenty of others:

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. in 1951, but I grew up around Charleston, West Virginia. Shortly after I was born, my father graduated from television repair school in Cleveland. My family returned home to West Virginia. Even though I didn’t remember living in Cleveland, during my childhood I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state since I was born in Ohio. It boosted my social status because very few of my peers had been anyplace other than their own ghettos.

Similar to the protagonist’s father in Rarity from the Hollow, my own father had PTSD caused by World War II traumas that he treated with alcohol. Before I started elementary school, he had become so dysfunctional that my mother would run him off. He would return when sober, “fall off the wagon” and my mother would run him off again, and again. Since we couldn’t pay the rent regularly, we moved frequently — shacks and dilapidated houses in one impoverished neighborhood after another, into and out of the rural hollows outside of our small town. Typically, I would change schools three or four times a year. Everyplace that we moved, I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state, and they were impressed. Neither fathers, my own nor the protagonist’s, could hold down a job for very long – also incorporated into the story.

In early chapters, the theme, “out-of-state” was prominent in Rarity from the Hollow. The protagonist’s mother, Jenny, begins the story as a down-trodden victim of domestic violence. After an off-planet comical adventure, Jenny doesn’t need to brag anymore about having once gone out-of-state because she had also been born in Cleveland, like me.

“Out-of-state” was also an element of a scene during which Lacy Dawn delivers psychotherapy to classmates at school. In this scene, a boy’s father is unemployed because the coal mine had shut down. The boy is being treated by Lacy Dawn for anxiety related to the family’s intention to move out-of-state so that the father can look for a job in Cleveland.

“Out-of-state” was also used in two scenes involving the android. In the first scene, the android had been assigned by Universal Management to perform a job on another planet. He had to leave Earth, leave Lacy Dawn. At this point in the story, the android was beginning to fall in love and to modify his programming so that he could feel more human-like emotions. In this scene, the android sheds his first tear because he has to leave the Hollow and go “out-of-state” for a new job.

The last scene that mentions “out-of-state” involves the android’s return to the Hollow from the out-of-state job. In this scene, he is introduced to Jenny as Lacy Dawn’s fiancé for when she’s old enough to marry. Following is an excerpt showing, in relevant part, Jenny’s head thoughts at one point in the scene:

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again…They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I‘d better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

I have many characters, many more than those introduced in Rarity from the Hollow. Picking a favorite would be like a parent picking a favorite son or daughter. Each character has strengths, weaknesses, attributes…let me tell you about Browne. I love that mutt, but maybe that’s because Brownie is so easy to love. He’s Lacy Dawn’s dog and plays an important role in her plan to save the universe. Here are some of his qualities. Maybe you have a pet like this.
• Defensively Brave
• Unconditionally Loving
• Forgiving
• Dutiful
• Entertaining
• Bright
• Stupid Exactly at the Right Times
• Empathetic
• Sensible

I could go on, but……..

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Readers already know my characters. They are neighbors, friends, the “black sheep” of our families, the politicians that we see on TV, the guy that we wish hadn’t moved into our neighborhoods, the boss, the preacher…. Readers will probably relate to my characters the same as they relate to people occupying these and other roles in their lives.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took about one year, writing after I got home from work and on weekends to complete Rarity from the Hollow. Working with the editor took another six months, but a lot of this was down time, waiting on mailings of the next draft of the manuscript to arrive, etc. Wring is the quick and easy part about being an author. Marketing one’s work to publishers, editors, and self-promotion – that’s the time consuming part about being an author, sometimes there is no time to actually write.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For my type of writing interests, research is less important than if I was into writing hard science fiction, and the world building had to be based upon more reasonable scientific projections of the future. When I’ve needed information, I’ve only used search engines. For example, I needed a name for a planet that had a Biblical reference because of the theme of the story. The story was not religious but the planet’s history was predominated by long series of invasions. I remembered a similar scenario from church Sunday school when I was a child. I used a search engine and came up with the name “Achaia” for the planet. Look it up and let me know if you think that it was a good name. There are plenty of other similar examples, but the worlds that I build just have to be visible in the reader’s mind, and a person can see almost anything even if it is hallucinatory. I research as much as I think is needed to make the scenes feel real for the reader.

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

Yes, there are many messages in everything that I have written and will write. That’s why I think of my writing as social science fiction – that’s what it’s all about. But that doesn’t mean the messages will be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.
Your question reminds me of a line from Rarity from the Hollow that a reviewer had pulled out and posted on a blog because she thought that it was significant for some reason:
A person can know everything, but still not have a true answer to an actual question.
The narrative of this novel addressed social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messaged do not advocate for anything specific. In my opinion, it is critical that such messages be in every piece of literature, even comics and erotica, but each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.
One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. Author proceeds from the Lacy Dawn Adventures project have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I enjoy writing. Writing itself doesn’t present challenges. Sure, there were plenty of next days after staying up most of the night that presented a challenge to maintaining quality work performance, but that wasn’t a “biggie.” The real challenges begin after a story is finished and involve the hard work that it takes to interest others in taking a minute to check out what you’ve produced. The marketplace if flooded with books. Unless an author is rich and buys promotional services, and I’m broke, every step of the path after the last period of a story is an uphill climb. I’m climbing, and it is a challenge to maintain drive, persistence and hope. Who was that guy that said something like, “I have a dream…?”

What are you working on right now?

I always have several works in progress at the same time. Since I’ve recently retired, the difference is that I’ve become productive. Instead of ideas, partially developed and then abandoned because life has gotten in the way, I’m reaching closure on a ton of older half-baked stories. A new short story just got rejected by a major science fiction magazine, so I’ve got some work to do on it, especially since I agree that it was prematurely submitted.

COtiguaXAAUzQ_zIvy, my next novel, is almost ready for professional editing. I’m holding off, trying to build name recognition before I submit it to the publisher for consideration. Ivy is a story about the lengths that children will go to help parents overcome drug addition, and includes satire about U.S. military recruitment practices and world religions.

My dream with respect to writing fiction is to get to the place where I no longer need to request book reviews, but instead book reviewers ask the publisher for a copy of my work to review. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to that place with Rarity from the Hollow and then have the release of Ivy perfectly timed so that I can concentrate on writing instead of promotions.

I’ve submitted and am awaiting decisions on two poems, another short story, and a satirical essay by three magazines and one journal. I am prolific if not too distracted with promoting my works. That’s what is slow and drawn out – self promotions, the hardest part, by far, of the role of “writer.”

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/190713395X/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/1907133062

Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13603677-rarity-from-the-hollow
https://www.facebook.com/robert.eggleton2
https://twitter.com/roberteggleton1

Interview with Fiona Gavelle, a Character in “Judge vs Nuts” by Una Tiers

Who are you?

Hello I’m Fiona Gavelle, I’m the protagonist in Judge vs. Nuts.

Where do you live?

I live in one of the most beautiful cities, Chicago, Illinois. We have a stunning lakefront to Lake Michigan, magnificent architecture, a wide range of cultural venues, and unfortunately politics and corruption. If you read the book, you will get a guided part of my favorite parts of the city.

Aren’t there a lot of books about corruption in Chicago?

There are plenty of non-fiction books about corruption in Chicago, but Judge vs. Nuts is a humorcide, that looks at another form of corruption. The non-fiction books will give you a headache; our book will make you laugh.

What is your problem in the story?

The police think that my dead client, Judge Laslo King was murdered. Really, there are a lot of ways it could have been a terrible accident.

Dead client?

Technically, I represent the executor of his estate, so not the dead person. That isn’t allowed even in Cook County.

Do you run from conflict?

Early and often, I must have watched too much television as a child and thought life could be relatively simple. That way of thinking leaves my head in the clouds much of the time. When I left my first job, I did it in the middle of the night. When I moved out of the apartment I shared with my husband, it was while he was at work. Now when it comes to clients, I want to believe I relentlessly protect their rights.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Una made me vulnerable and naive, but she also put Aunt Tess and Judge Adam Curie in to protect me when I’m not looking. Their advice is so subtle; they think I’m not listening.

Do you have any special strengths?

I can write loopholes and spot them immediately. Then I redraft, edit, spot another loophole and repeat. It takes a long time to write a simple sentence when you are getting paid hourly.

What, if anything, haunts you?

Going to divorce court alone. My ears were ringing and I had trouble remembering how to get home.

How do you envision your future?

I like to write. I like to teach surreptitiously. I’m the protagonist in three novellas and am nearly finished with the next full length book, Judge vs Lake Michigan.

Thank you for visiting with us, Fiona. Best of luck!

***

Bio: Una Tiers (pen name) is an attorney practicing law in Chicago, Illinois. She is an avid reader. After a particularly grueling day in court, she wrote a story pouring all her anger into eliminating the judge, at least on paper. With a smile, additional victims were added as necessary. The result was Judge vs. Nuts, a look at murder, corruption and the Chicago judiciary. Una is calmer now.

Judge vs. Nuts is available in Kindle format. https://www.amazon.com/Judge-Nuts-Fiona-Gavelle-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00UUS7GJK

Learn more about our masterpieces, see writing tips and other books at our website http://www.unatiers.com/

Una takes messages for Fiona.

We are on twitter (@unatiers and Goodreads (Una Tiers)!

Interview with A. Gavazzoni, author of BEHIND THE DOOR

What is your book about?

My novel is about Hidden Motives, what leads people to behave the way they do. It’s a psychological and erotic thriller.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I believe every character has traces of its creator. Sometimes it’s the way they behave, sometimes it’s their profession. Carl is a lawyer; so am I. Simone is a strong and independent woman; so am I. Peter has a great sense of humor; I love a good laugh. And Lara loves to dance, and I do too!

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I have to research a lot, as I talk about psychology and crimes. I usually buy texts from universities or do my research on the subject (psychology) using books. For the criminal part, I have a wonderful consultant—a former FBI agent—and I send him questions about criminal behavior, penalties, and the way the FBI and police work.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I would like people to understand nobody can be judged because you really don’t know their deep traumas and dramas. Strange behavior, a character flaw, or even a homicide can be the result of a hidden story, a buried memory, or deep suffering. No one has the right to judge without knowing the motives

Do you have any rituals you follow before sitting down to write?

Yes, I brew myself a strong cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and only then am I ready to write.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I love to write in the morning, when my brain is fresh and my ideas are clear, but I write whenever I can because I’m usually very busy in the morning.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished the sequel of Behind The Door, Lara’s Journal, Part I. I intend to do some research and to start Lara’s Journal, Part II in the beginning of January.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

My novels are not pure erotica, but I can say 10% of it is erotic, so my target readers are adults. But I really would like to reach men and women as it’s a psychological thriller, and I would like to send the message of not judging to everyone.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Since I read my first book.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Yes. As she was one of my favorite and most complex characters, it was hard to eliminate her.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Unpredictability—that’s the reason I’m always changing the course of my characters and presenting unexpected turns in the story.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Life is short; enjoy it!

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Sometimes from friends I would like to honor, sometimes from a movie character I particularly loved… For instance, when I was a teenager, I saw Dr. Zhivago, and ever since then, I loved the name Lara. Other times, t I just go online and search for a list of the best baby names.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Happiness.

What is a talent you have that nobody knows?

I’m an amateur astrologer.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

My novel can be find at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N4LR2HL/
And I can be found at https://www.facebook.com/A-Gavazzoni-513404948849469/), at agavazzoni.com, or on my blog www.agavazzoni.com/blog

Interview with Steve Hagood, Author of CHASING THE WOODSTOCK BABY

woodstock-copy

Welcome, Steve. What is your book about?

Retired Detroit police detective Chase is approached by a nice old lady who asks him to find the baby she had, and lost, at Woodstock. The search takes Chase to a small town in Michigan that has a secret that it has been hiding for four decades. The man who runs the town will go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the secret.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have always been fascinated with Woodstock. When I heard the legend of the Woodstock baby I wondered what had happened to it. Why has nobody ever come forward to claim to be the baby, or the mother? My imagination took over from there.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Obviously, my protagonist Chase is my main and favorite character. A lot of Private Investigators in novels have a sidekick who acts as his foil – dark, mysterious, the guy who does the dirty work – Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Chase is both of those guys rolled into one. He is the wise cracking, lovable guy who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

Sarge and Sally are Chase’s partners in the bar he owns. Sarge was Chase’s training officer when he joined the Detroit Police. He still acts as a mentor and a steadying influence. Sally is the brains of the operation. She acts as Chase’s de facto research department. She doubles as the female, creating sexual tension between the two.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes. I had to do quite a bit of research for this book. The internet is a wonderful tool for a writer. It can transport you to any place and any time you want. I was able to put myself at Woodstock through pictures and stories. Hopefully my writing puts the reader there with me.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t really have a schedule. I have a day job and a family so it’s not always easy to find time to write. I write when I can. I live by the mantra “Writers write” to push myself to write something every day, even if it’s just a few paragraphs or sentences.

What are you working on right now?

I recently finished another Chase novel, titled Cold Dark Places. Hopefully we will see it soon from Indigo Sea Press. It’s a story about a college girl missing in Detroit, and the basketball player implicated in her disappearance.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I didn’t start writing until about thirty. The first story I wrote was a ghost story. I don’t know why. It’s the only ghost story I’ve ever written. It was about a group of friends on a fishing trip who were haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun to write.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are tough. One of the techniques I use is to open up the internet and use the first name that I see, if it fits the character that I need to name. I head up a scholarship given by my graduating class to the high school we graduated from. I offered my former classmates their name in a book in exchange for a donation to the scholarship. I had a couple people who wanted to see their name in a book, so it worked out for me, for them, and the scholarship.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising aspect of writing, for me, is when the story builds upon itself. Sometimes I feel like a stenographer. I’m just the guy typing the words, the story is writing itself. In The Woodstock Baby there is a scene where Chase is questioning a suspect, the suspect denies any involvement and Chase says, “We have a witness!” I thought, “Wow, there’s a witness!” I didn’t know there was a witness until I typed it, and I’m the author! I couldn’t wait to see who the witness was because I sure didn’t know.

What writer influenced you the most?

I actually have two big influences. The late great Robert B. Parker made me fall in love with books. His Spenser stories are still my favorite. I’ve read them all multiple times. The fact that Chase is known by a single name is in homage to Parker and Spenser.

The other writer who influenced me is JA Konrath. I love his books, but it’s more than just his writing that influenced me. One thing the general public doesn’t know is that it is very difficult to get published – “you should publish that” a lot. If only it was that easy. Konrath called himself the king of rejection. He wrote nine full novels in two or three different genres before he got one published. He accumulated literally hundreds of rejections, but he never gave up. He eventually broke through and now has millions of books sold. He inspired me to never give up, to never stop chasing my dream.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Joy

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Ironically, in Cold Dark Places I make mention to The Woodstock Baby and how some Hollywood people wanted to make a movie about the case. They promised to get Denzel Washington to play Chase, even though Chase is “white, younger than, and nowhere near as pretty” as Denzel.

In “real life” I see Chase as more of a Will Patton type. He has the ability to be caring and tough and make them both authentic.

There’s this other actor who I know named Tevis Marcum who I think would do an outstanding job as Chase. He’s from the Detroit area and has the look. Like Will Patton he has the ability to be caring and tough in the same character.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

My flash drive. My work goes everywhere with me. I do back it up to my computer however. It has gone through the wash a time or two. There is no terror like the terror of finding your flash drive in the bottom of the washing machine.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional? Why?

Saline, Michigan. It’s my hometown. I moved away for a while and when I returned I thought, “Ahh, I’m home.” When I needed a small town to set The Woodstock Baby in I chose Saline because “there’s no place like home.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

From Indigo Sea Press http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve and www.stevehagood.com

Interview with Sherrie Hansen, Author of SWEET WILLIAM, a Wildflowers of Scotland Romance

Hi, Sherrie. I’m thrilled you have a new book published. What is your book, Sweet William, about?

On the outside, Sweet William is about castles, kilts, and cows. It’s about sweet vs. savory – in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. It’s about family, friends and bull semen. On the inside, Sweet William is about doing the right thing, even when your heart is screaming at you to do the complete opposite. It’s about the good ones dying and the ones who irritate you no end still hanging on and refusing to go away. It’s about the unthinkable, the impossible, having a life you love and being asked to give it all up and move to an alternate universe on the other side of the globe because there is no other option.

It all begins when Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge. William is a real sweetheart (sickeningly sweet according to Lyndsie). Lyndsie is a wee bit tart (although William is too nice to ever point out such a thing.) The atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. It remains to be seen whether someone will get cut, or if they’ll find a recipe that works. Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

When William McKnight showed up at Michael and Isabelle’s wedding in Shy Violet, it was love at first sight (for me, not Lyndsie, who was totally irritated when he stole the limelight away from her dainty finger foods and crudités with his roasted grunter, buttery soft potato rolls and overly sweet Farm Boy Barbeque Sauce.) The two of them were so great together that I decided they had to be.

Sounds fun. Tell us a little more about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

William is getting rave reviews from my readers. He’s being called my best hero ever. I’m still so enamored of Pastor Ian in Wild Rose, that I can’t quite see it, but that’s another story. I adored writing Lyndsie. She’s spunky and sassy and self-confident. She knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who challenges her. She loves her family and would do anything for them, even when she’s totally disgusted by their actions. She’s a very loyal friend – until she has to choose between her two best friends and a family member that all desperately need her – and they live on opposite sides of the globe. Lyndsie has such snark – and William’s sweet disposition is the perfect foil for her sass.

Did you do any research for Sweet William? If so, how did you do it?

Although I grew up on a farm, my dad never raised cattle, so I had to do a lot of research on various breeds of beef cattle and their traits and behaviors. I researched cattlemen’s association in Scotland and the U.S., the origins of the Aberdeen Angus breed, agricultural import and export regulations, and… bull semen. I accomplished my task by visiting Scotland, Devon and Cornwall, interviewing veterinarians, talking to my niece, Victoria, who raises beef cattle and shows them at the fair, and tracking things down on the internet.

What about your book besides the Scottish setting might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ve been told by several readers that when I started writing my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, they missed the local color, familiar places, and quirky Midwestern characters from my first five books, which are all set in Minnesota or Iowa. While I maintain that people are the same everywhere (check out the church ladies in Wild Rose if you doubt me), my local readers will be pleased to know that Sweet William is partially set on a farm in Southern Minnesota. Backdrops like the Minnesota State Fair and a family gathering at William’s family’s farm in Blue River, Minnesota, should make them feel right at home.

What was the most difficult part about writing Sweet William?

I’ve “killed off” bad guys, in both Wild Rose and Blue Belle, and sent nefarious pirates to the slammer in Shy Violet, but in Sweet William, I had to do away with a good guy. Writing those scenes, and grieving alongside my characters, cut me to the core and filled me with complete and utter trepidation about the time in my life when I will have to face this kind of loss.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

One of the hardest things for me to do, as an author, has been to single out a particular type of reader to whom to market my books. They call it branding, and I’m terrible at it. My Wildflowers of Scotland novels are a good example. The focus of Wild Rose is faith and forgiveness, which appeals to a certain type of reader. Although there are no steamy scenes in Wild Rose, it does not fit the parameters of inspirational fiction – Rose is much too quirky, and well, too wild, for that. Blue Belle and Shy Violet are quite steamy, and the behavior of the bad guys in Blue Belle is sometimes gory, gross, and too explicit for the faint of heart. Sweet William is sweet, and except for one teeny, tiny, mildly steamy scene, suitable for all readers. It’s less suspenseful than the others, and focuses more on family “situations” for conflict. The thing is, my books are character driven. No two characters are the same. I think my books are better because I don’t try to put my characters in a box, but if you’re going to come along for the ride, you need to be willing to take whatever each particular character throws at you – me. If you’re open to it, I think it’s far more fun that way.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

As expressed above, I’m into characters. A reader recently wrote to me and said, “Boy, you know people. I have been practicing psychology and social work for 45 years and you must have been sitting in the office next to me. You know your stuff!” Although my characterizations are subtle, it thrilled me that she could appreciate the inner workings of the men and women I write about. I feel that if my characters are honest, well-motivated, and real enough, my plot will basically write itself based on their actions, fears, and needs.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

How could it not, given how unpredictable people are? I always say that I write the first one third to half of the books, and my characters write the rest.

Have you written any other books?

Sweet William is a Wildflowers of Scotland novel, and follows Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet. I’ve written two stand-alones, Night and Day, and Love Notes. I also have a trilogy, the Maple Valley novels, about three quirky sisters who can’t stop with the quilts – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Here are some links to places where you can learn more about my books:

https://www.facebook.com/BlueBelleInn
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/
http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-ansen/e/B007YXQJ4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
http://www.indigoseapress.com/Star-Crossed-Books–Contemporary-Romance.php#Hansen

Don’t forget to check out Sherrie’s new release: Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U