Interview with Tamara Lowery, author of HELL’S DODO

Hello Pat. Thank you for giving me this venue and opportunity to share a little bit about myself with fans and potential fans. I truly appreciate that you do things like this for fellow authors.

What is your book about?

Hell’s Dodo, book 5 in the Waves of Darkness series, recounts the adventures of the pirate Viktor Brandewyne aka Bloody Vik Brandee in his quest to find Auntie Clarissa, fifth of seven Sisters of Power. He must find the Sisters and perform seemingly impossible tasks or quests to gain their magical help towards breaking the curse that has made him a living vampire.

Clarissa sends him to find, among other things, a dragon’s egg and a dodo’s egg. His journey takes him from Colonial Savannah to Salem to the tip of South America as well as the Indian Ocean and Indonesia, with a side trip to New Orleans.

I do not have the cover from my publisher yet.

It is slated for a mid-November release by Gypsy Shadow Publishing (

Tell us about your main characters. Who is your favorite? Why?

Viktor, the main character, actually did an interview with you a few years ago (around the end of 2012 He is a pirate-turned-vampire, and he is very good at what he does.

Belladonna is a man-eating siren (half-shark/half-human, but can take full human form). She accidentally bound herself to Viktor when she took a bite out of his shoulder. Her visions and weather magic aide Vik in finding the Sisters.

Hezekiah Grimm aka the Grimm Reaper is Vik’s first mate but has sailed as a pirate captain in his own right. He’s about six or seven years older than Vik and serves to balance out his captain’s intensity; however, he is just as ruthless as Viktor. He didn’t earn the moniker Reaper for nothing.

Lazarus most often appears as a large black tom cat and sometimes as a raven. He was once Vik’s erstwhile first mate, Jim Rigger. He was magically transformed shortly after he became Viktor’s second blood meal.

It is hard to pick a favorite; they’re all fun to write. Belladonna is probably the most interesting to write, however. She isn’t human; she’s ancient despite appearances (she frequently visited the library at Alexandria before the fire, to give you an idea of her age); she is a predator in the truest sense; these combine to make her a challenge to write. As a predatory creature, some human emotions can be a struggle for her.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Hell’s Dodo took me a little more than two years to write, nearly twice as long as it predecessors in the series. I made the mistake of juggling it with two other writing projects, both of which have been shelved for after the completion of this story arc in the series. (One is a stand-alone fantasy novel based on a dream I had. The other is a Steampunk serial adventure.)

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

I want my readers to be entertained. I want them to feel they got their money’s worth in adventure and escapism. I want them hungry for the next book to find out what happens next (although I try to avoid cliff hanger endings). If any of my readers find some kind of “message,” “statement,” or political agenda in this series, it resides solely in their own minds, not mine. I loathe politics.

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

In this, I am definitely atypical from what I’ve seen of other authors’ answer to this type of question. I do not have a words-per-day quota. The majority of my writing is done by hand during work breaks. I very rarely write at home or on the weekends because of my work schedule and practical demands on my time during my time off from work. Plus, there are too many distractions at home to make getting in any writing mind set easy.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished writing the first draft of book six, The Daedalus Enigma, in September. I’m currently writing the first draft of the seventh book, Maelstrom of fate. I also have a short story of Lovecraftian horror to polish up and submit for the horror anthology The Nameless for Ironclad Press ( The deadline on that is fast approaching.

When were you first published? How were you discovered?

My first book, Blood Curse, was published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in 2011. I contracted with them after four years of collecting rejection slips from agents and publishers alike. I found Gypsy Shadow through Facebook. Beth Wylde (the pen name of a published friend of mine; she primarily writes lesbian erotica) had liked their page. I investigated their website and saw that my book would fit in nicely with their catalogue. They were a new indie press, but had recently signed famed sci-fi/fantasy author Elizabeth Ann Scarborough to re-release her backlog titles she’d regained the rights to as ebooks. I figured if someone who’d been in the industry as long as she had trusted them, I’d give them a try. It paid off.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. Hell’s Dodo will be my fifth published novel. The first four, in order, are Blood Curse, Demon Bayou, Silent Fathoms, and Black Venom. I also have an ebook-only dark fantasy short story, In the Dead of Winter, with Gypsy Shadow. I have several other writing projects patiently awaiting my attention and time.

What has been your greatest internal struggle to overcome in relation to your writing career?

Anxiety over confrontation, even in situations that are really non-confrontational. It is entirely irrational, but something I deal with frequently. In the past, I’ve allowed it to delay me in doing things to further my writing career. I suppose mild self-doubt is at the core of it; and I’m a notorious procrastinator.

What genre are your books?

They are adventure/horror, but my other projects range across several genres: horror, Steampunk, fantasy, and dystopian. I may even foray back into space opera, my first love in my teen years. (I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I saw Episode 4 at the drive-in back in ’77, and I grew up on Star Trek and Lost In Space. Yes, I AM that old. I’ve got scars older than half my coworkers.)

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Most definitely. They often reveal what they are going to do during the writing process; things that have no connection to ANY of my plot points or notes. They even defy me on what I want them to do, sometimes. For example, it wasn’t until the first chapter of book six that I learned WHY one of my antagonists made a pet out of a minor character rather than kill him in book 3. Her reasoning proved sound and will provide readers with some fan service regarding Viktor. So, I’ve learned to just roll with it when the characters take over. I can always edit it out later, if necessary.

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

Two of the original actors I wanted have aged out of the roles now. In all honesty, they were aged out when I first picked them. It could still work if the film(s) were done CGI/motion-capture like Beowulf was done.

Viktor Brandewyne: Liam Neeson (even though Vik is half Cherokee)

Hezekiah Grimm: Willem Dafoe (I think he’d make a great pirate)

Belladonna: Avril Lavigne (provided she can act; I know she can sing)

Uncle Zeke (the wizard of Hell’s Breath Island): Morgan Freeman (he will NEVER age out)

I really don’t have any particular actors in mind for any of the other characters.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My website (which seems to be in a constant state of construction lately, as I add to and tweak it) is Tamara Lowery’s Scribblings ( I have all my books listed there along with purchase links for Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million for each title. I have linked the various reviews they’ve received, as well. The site also hosts character profiles, a “Readers’ Refuge” for various excerpts and deleted scenes, and my weekly blog.

Gypsy Shadow Publishing has an author page for me.

On Facebook, my page is and my discussion group, Waves of Darkness and Other Writings of Tamara Lowery is

Thank you again for having me.

Thank you for letting me interview you!

Interview with Belladonna, hero of HELL’S DODO by Tamara Lowery

Hello Pat, I finally convinced Belladonna, one of the major characters in my Waves of Darkness series to agree to an interview. Thanks for this opportunity. ~ Tamara Lowery

Who are you?

(laughs) A more accurate question would be “What are you?”

I am Belladonna, eldest daughter of the great sea dragon Theonikos, which makes me a siren.

Do you embrace conflict?

Life is conflict. yes, I embrace conflict. Occasionally I even incite it; the chemical changes it causes in the bodies of my prey add flavor to the meat.

How do you see yourself?

I am a predator. For the most part, my prey is sentient. There have been times when I’ve had to settle for sharks, but I prefer mermaids or humans.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Most definitely, although I object to her attempts to humanize me. Any human traits I exhibit are merely learned habits I use to blend in with my prey or to capitalize on their weaknesses. I do like to play with my food.

She does at least recognize the difference between a mermaid and a siren. I know that my shark tail in my true form rather than human guise could cause some confusion on the matter. (extends fingers to 10-inch razor-sharp talons and grins literally ear-to-ear to reveal multiple rows of needle-like teeth) However, mermaids do not eat sirens, nor can they take human form.

Well, I should correct that. True mermaids are blonde and cannot take human form. Sirens have red hair and can take human form. The rare males can also transform into sea dragons capable of swallowing a ship whole. Viktor Brandewyne (pauses in irritation) sired a merman on a mermaid. The new strain in the species has black hair and can take human form. At least the dark-haired ones cannot breed with humans like the purebreds. As it is, they breed like guppies and are quickly becoming the dominant strain in the species. (frowns in disgust)

Do you have a goal?

It used to be to regain my freedom. I once made the mistake of taking a bite out of Viktor. Now, I am magically and telepathically bound to the pirate-turned-vampire. He is powerful enough to master me, something I fought against vehemently for some time. My attitude toward him has changed over the years we’ve sailed together. My primary goal is to help him find the Sisters of Power. After that: we’ll see.

What makes you happy?

A skilled lover and a satisfying meal. In most cases, the former becomes the latter. As I said, I like to play with my food.

What do you regret?

Biting that chunk out of Viktor. I was free for millennia.

What, if anything, haunts you?

Being exiled from my native waters of the Mediterranean and Black seas. Who’d think that old wizard would be so touchy over a few hurricanes?

Have you ever betrayed anyone?

I had my pregnant sister killed in an attempt to protect my territory from her mate. It didn’t work.

Do you have any distinguishing marks?

(smiles wryly) That is an interesting, if abrupt, subject change. Did my answer to the last question disturb you?

Very well: I have blood red hair. My eyes are the color of the ever-changing sea in my human guise but amber-gold in my true form. I have a mouthful of very efficient, needle-like teeth and can open my mouth wide enough to bite a man’s face off, but I can make them appear blunt like a human’s. My jaws are powerful enough to crush a man’s skull. My fingers can extend to 10-inch, razor-sharp talons and house toxin-bearing stinger cells in the fingertips, much like the stinger cells found in jellyfish tentacles. They exude toxins that can cause mild discomfort, chemical burns, anesthesia, or a paralysis that can cause a very painful but swift death. I also have an amazing voice capable of ultrasonic frequencies and volumes that can sonically lobotomize a human. I use song-spells to bend the winds and currents to my will.

What in your past had the most profound effect on you?

The murder of my sister. It led to a war between me and her mate. Eventually, it led to my exile from and the dragon’s restriction to my old territory. He cannot pass beyond Gibraltar, and I would forfeit my freedom to him to reenter those waters.

Who is your true love?

I am loathe to admit love at all. It is too human an emotion, and I am NOT human. However, given how rarely I have observed what you call “true love” really demonstrated by humans, I will say that I love Viktor. I would and have put his needs above my own, something normally alien to my nature. Anything less than that is merely lust or infatuation, two things all too often called “love.” Oh, I understand and enjoy lust quite well. It is a very useful tool to me. Infatuation, however, is something I never have and never will suffer from.

What is your favorite food? Why?

Mermaid, purebred anyway. To eat any of the strain Viktor introduced would only bind me that much closer to his will and possibly incur his anger. He is very protective of anything he considers his.

I prefer mermaid over human because their diet is far healthier, and they present more of a challenge as prey than humans. They are wily and wary of predators. Humans, the males especially, but quite often the females, too, all too often allow their lust to override their sense of self-preservation or forethought to the consequences of their actions. I’ve had men swim to my deadly embrace willingly; simply because they were more focused on what was below my shoulders rather than what was above them.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

(laughs again) First, I can’t be stranded on an island, with the exception of Hell’s Breath Island. She only lets you leave when she wants you to.

However, for the sake of argument, if I was stranded on an island, I wouldn’t care whether I was with a man or a woman. Food is food.

You can read my profile page at As the URL indicates, my profile picture is not safe for work. I find clothing a nuisance.

Thank you for being a gracious hostess. Is there anyone around here you wouldn’t miss? All this talk of food has my appetite up.

Thank you for letting me interview you. I think.

Marian Allen, Author of the Sage Books

sageCWhat is your book about?

The SAGE trilogy is about a land thrown out of balance by the selfishness of its ruler. When the most selfish of the Four Divine Animals (Tortoise) decides to stir things up and use a few chosen people to make even more of a mess, events take unexpected turns.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

The most unusual character in SAGE has to be Tortoise. Sometimes he appears as a tortoise, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a cat, and sometimes as The Black Warrior, a terrifying sight on the battlefield. He can probably appear as a woman, too, but I haven’t written that story yet. As his author, I like him very much, because he was so much fun to write, but I can’t say he’s a likeable character. ~grin~

How long did it take you to write your book?

SAGE took me close to 20 years, from first glimmer to print/eBook. I kept getting agents who loved the book but wanted changes, then didn’t like their own changes or didn’t want to wait for my rewrite. I rewrote the book, start to finish, three or four times, by which time I had gutted it of most of its strangeness. My youngest daughter, who had grown up listening to the rewrites, told me to stop listening to what other people thought and trust myself. I did one more rewrite, making it exactly what I wanted it to be, and that’s the one I sold to Hydra Publications.

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

Often it’s just a glimmer. Maybe a setting, a character, a situation, or a line of dialog. I start writing – I call it writing my way into a story – and stop to do some plotting and planning before I go on. Very rarely do I have the whole thing in mind before I start that initial writing.

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

I did a lot of research for SAGE. I read books on unicorns, on animal symbology and mythology, on English Anglo-Saxon life, and on the history of castles. Oh, and historical food and clothing. And silversmithing. One thing that really gets my goat is people who say, “It must be nice to write fantasy. You don’t have to do any research!” ~laughing~

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

There isn’t any swashbuckling or great feats of sorcery in SAGE, although swords are wielded and magic is present. One character says having magic is like being aware of another reality that’s as real as the one everybody else is aware of as well as being aware of everybody’s reality at the same time. I think readers will be intrigued by this feeling of the ordinary/extraordinary duality.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I ask my characters questions. After the rough draft, I fill out character sheets on them, including asking them 10 random questions and letting them answer in their own voices. I find their voices become much more individual and strong as the questions proceed. Then I can do the rewrite with those voices in my head and those answers in the background.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have a spiral notebook with pocket dividers filled with “bits”. For the first time this year, I did the Story A Day in May challenge, and mined that binder for all it was worth! I still have masses of material in there, though. It’s very reassuring.

What writer influenced you the most?

On the grounds that I should go back as far as possible, I have to say that Walter R. Brooks, creator of the FREDDY THE PIG detective books for kids, influenced me most. Brooks’ characters were individuals with unique points of view and different voices and strong motivations. He knew when to show and when to tell, when to telescope and when to detail, and his bit characters were as unique and memorable as the main ones, and sometimes turned up in later books. Plus, he was funny!

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

The late mystery writer Dick Stodghill said, “Don’t take yourself too seriously – but DO take your work seriously. Insist that everyone around you take your work seriously. It isn’t some little thing you do, it isn’t a joke, it’s your work.”

Have you written any other books?

Marian786xOh, dear me, yes, thank you for asking. FORCE OF HABIT is a cop/sf/farce set on the planet Llannonn, where courtesy is mandated by law and loud-mouthed aliens from outer space – from the planet Earth, to be specific – are sure to find themselves in trouble. SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING is another science fiction novel, this one set on the planet Marner, where slavery is legal, and a tourist from Earth reluctantly puts more than her career on the line for someone she doesn’t even like. I’ve collected some of my short stories and self-published them for Kindle and at Smashwords.

Where can people learn more about your books?

The best place to go is my website: I have excerpts of all the novels and all the short stories there, as well as a page of links to stories that are free at my site or at other sites on the web.

The SAGE books are available:
The Fall of Onagros

Bargain With Fate

Silver and Iron

Keri Dudas, Author of “Angel in the Flames” (Interview)

What is your book about?

Angel in the Flames is about a prince named Castel who believes that he’s stumbled upon the missing Silean Princess, Rosaline. None of the main characters know that’s she’s actually Rosaline’s cousin, Persephone, who’s running from a Cyanese Tribe Leader who blames her for the death of his wife.

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

I’ve four main characters who come together in this book. The prince, Castel; his friend and faithful knight, Pelinor; the femme in disguise, Persephone; and the Latriana (Queen) of the Astra Amazon Tribe, Dulcea.

It’s truthfully a tossup between Castel and Persephone. With Castel, he’s fallible; he’s his faults that messes him up at times that shows his humanity. But with Persephone, she’s a strong conviction to finish what she set out to do but, at the same time, her duty makes her question herself a lot which is something that most of us, as humans, do.

How long did it take you to write your book?

The initial draft took me all of two months to hand-write. Another month, give or take, of typing it up and editing and about a month’s worth of final polishing – which is what’s happening now to get it ready for its release in January.

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

A floating, vague notion of wanting to write a love story…which the characters quickly took ransom of and spit something else back at me. I honestly had no idea what it was going to turn into until it was all over and I was staring at it with two other story ideas in my head.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

With Angel in the Flames, the characters stopped talking at the end and said, ‘That’s a wrap!’ Their stories weren’t over, but that one was. With the others that I’ve finished, it’s a similar concept. They basically sit down, call a masseuse over and tell me to move on.

What are you working on right now?

Easier to ask what I’m not working on right now.

I’ve the Aurora Borealis short stories that I’ve been writing and publishing up on Smashwords; once I’ve a few of them I’ll out them into a collection.

But, the big novel that’s been pressing in my mind lately the most has been Princess of War. In this one, the Relic of Ares – the key to Ares’ immortal powers – has been stolen. He is sent across the Veil into the modern world where he must convince an archaeologist, Belle Tracey, that he is the God of War and persuade her to help him find it before the Moirae’s scissors begin to snipe away at his thread.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, not always. At first I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a manga artist and then a lawyer. Writing was just something I did to pass the time, to escape from my perils social life of playground bullies that grew into Edward Scissor-Hand Barbie dolls. Did I always have the imagination, yes, it got me into quite a bit of trouble when I was younger but I’d never had thought to be a writer until 2009. That was when I decided to step out of Fanfiction and drive head-first into the worlds I never even knew existed in my head.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Condensing x-number of pages down into a synopsis blurb. I’m sorry, but I swear I’ll have an easier time fitting my toosh into a pair of size 0 skinny jeans than I ever will condensing my work into a blurb.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

Writing the novel. Sure, I hit writer’s block, who doesn’t? But listening to the character talk and writing out the story as it unfolds is easy…especially if you trick your writer’s block into only blocking up one work-in-progress.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?


Writing has always made me feel free; free to escape reality when I need to, free to get lost in the worlds inside my head, free to be more myself. I feel more at ease writing than I do most anything else.

What do you wear when you write?

Usually my pajamas; they’re the comfiest.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I do, and it just keeps growing and growing and growing. I keep them organized in an expandable portfolio with the book title at the top and any information pertaining to the story in the pocket. I’m horrible for scribbling down ideas when I’m in some random location or when I’m in-between the lull of asleep and awake and one of my characters prods me awake going, ‘Write this down or you’ll never sleep.’

Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?

If you can call it a table…more often than not what’s next to me is the stack of notebooks I’m writing in and then there’s a pen on top of it all, like a small, spiral notebook castle.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Let’s see, there’s the second prequel and the sequel to Angel in the Flames; Song of the Heart and Memory of Roses. The Realm Trilogy, the first of which I’m starting this November for NaNoWriMo. Then there’s seven additional stories not including the various short stories for Aurora Borealis.

Have you written any other books?

Aside from the Aurora Borealis short stories, the only other completed manuscript at this time is for Shadow of the Stars. It stars Dulcea before the happenings of Angel in the Flames.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My Personal Website lists all the projects I’m either working on or will be working on shortly:

My Blog:

My Smashwords Author Page:

Angel in the Flames set for release January, 2013 at:

Arthur Levine, Author of “Johnny Oops”

What is your book about?

Hi, my book Johnny oops is about a young man who doesn’t know whether he is a prophet, a charlatan or a sex maniac, but is convinced he has the word of God to deliver.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I don’t know what inspired me to write this book. It just popped out of my mind.

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

I wish more of myself was in the principal character, Johnny oops, but some small parts straggle in.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think one of the best characters is Doctor O’Hara who goes crazy trying to straighten Johnny out.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me less than six months to write and four years to edit again and again and again.

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

I had very little of the story in mind, but some thoughts about the main character and his smart ass attitude.

Did you do any research for the book?

Did some google research on Quantum Computing.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I usually get the idea for the end about half way through the book from the characters themselves. Hate to get it too early because then I have a tendency to race to the conclusion.

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

I want people to think they have had a worthwhile experience. There is always some spiritual or moral context to my stories.

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

I want people to know there is always a higher power guiding our lives without getting to deeply into religion. Wih me it’s more of a spiritual and faith building type of thing.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes easily to me.I never have writers block. Editing comes hard. I am currently struggling to get out the next four of the eight books i have in manuscript form.

What genre are your books?

My books are all some form of fantasy.

Johnny Oops

Click here to read an Excerpt From “Johnny Oops” by Arthur Levine


K. Rowe, Author of “Dragonslayers: Battle Rhythm”

What is your book about?

“Dragonslayers: Battle Rhythm” is the third book in the series about an unlikely Special Forces unit tasked to do battle with terrorists anywhere on the planet. The first two books are titled: “Project: Dragonslayers” and “Dragonslayers: Mind Games.”

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

The two main characters are Lt Col. Eagle Tryggvesson, and Maj. D.M. Elliott. Eagle is Norwegian by birth, but came to the US and wanted to serve her new-found country. She has long been interested in special operations, and has a dream to put together a small, elite team which would take the fight to the terrorists. Maj. D.M. Elliott doesn’t realize his rather interesting background until he’s thrown into Eagle’s motley group. As things progress, he finds a deep love for her, although it’s against regulations. They form a partnership that brings the team together and makes them a nearly unstoppable force.

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

I put many hours of research into each book. As well as being retired military, I do tons of internet searches to get information for the books. My husband is also retired special forces, so I have a great resource in him as well.

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

I guess the goal for the DS series would be to enlighten the non-military person and help them understand what special operators go through on a daily basis. Things like PTSD are still not well understood in society, and my characters suffer from it, and have to deal with their families who don’t always understand. It can be frustrating and heartbreaking when family does not get the son or daughter they sent to war back as they were.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Editing! Granted I use an editor, but I still do several rounds before it goes to her, and when it comes back from her, there’s always lots of “blood” that needs to be taken care of. Over the years, I’ve gotten better, but I still hate editing.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes WAY too easy for me. I liken it to a disease that the only way you can feel better is to get the words out and the story written.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day

I have gobs of files on my computer for stories that I’ve written and haven’t yet published, or are in the “design” phase. Currently, besides the 4 novels I have out, there are at least 5 others in the works right now.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

My best friend always gives me good advice. She’s also my toughest critic! I’ve NEVER gotten a 5 star review from her. But, I admire that, because she’s brutally honest and I know that being a good writer requires the ability to accept criticism.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Don’t expect mega sales right from the start. If you do, you’re darned lucky! All the other authors I’ve spoken with say it takes 6-9 years to become truly successful. Well, I got at least 3-6 more to go!

It takes 6-9 years? That’s interesting. How are you marketing your books?

I market on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and word of mouth. No, it’s probably not enough, but when you have a 100 acre farm to take care of as well, you gotta divide your time.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I’m always putting out new books and short stories. The best places to find me are:
twitter: sturgeon3736

Malcolm R. Campbell, Author of “Sarabande”

I am delighted to be able to introduce Malcolm R. Campbell and his newest novel “Sarabande”. Malcolm is so very generous to other authors, it’s great to be able to return the favor. Besides, he’s a damn good writer who pens powerful tales. If you haven’t yet met Malcolm, what are you waiting for?

So, Malcolm, what is your book about?

“Sarabande” is the story of a young woman who leaves her alternate-universe home via a portal hidden in the Rocky Mountains in search of the once-powerful Sun Singer. She wants him to return to her mountain home and help her rid herself of the ghost of her sister Dryad who has haunted her for three years. The journey itself turns out to be worse than Dryad’s taunting and haunting. The ordeals of the trip across the Montana plains will force her deep within to discover her true strengths and greatest challenges.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

This novel is a sequel to my earlier fantasy “The Sun Singer,” so the story was on my mind for many years before I wrote it. I had never written fiction from a woman’s point of view before and avoided working on “Sarabande” until I was finally ready to confront the story.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

“The Sun Singer” is about a young man’s solar journey. I wanted to look at the other side of the coin, so to speak, and write about the lunar-oriented ordeals of a young woman. Sarabande, my protagonist first appeared in “The Sun Singer.” However, I have written her story so that it can be read as a standalone novel, a woman’s story that could be whole in and of itself.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Sarabande’s sister Dryad is a nasty temptress. She tried to spoil my protagonist, Robert Adams, in “The Sun Singer.” When she attacked Sarabande near the end of that novel, Sarabande killed her in self-defense. As it turns out, she’s even nastier as a ghost than as a living woman. Basically, he’s an all-about-me character with few morals and fewer restraints on what she’s willing to do to hurt other people.

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

I know only the major plot points. I try to follow my stories as they unfold. While I already knew about the major ordeals Sarabande had to face, I knew little else. When I finished one chapter, the idea for the next chapter came to mind. It was almost like the character was sitting next to me handing out her story a little bit at a time. Needless to say, writing this way means that I end up being surprised by many of the things that happen. I tend to do a lot of research while I write because I like placing my fantasy scenes in very real settings. While reading about those settings online, I often think of new wrinkles for the plot that had never occurred to me before. I love the process of discovery.

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

All three of my fantasies are set partly in Glacier National Park. However, since I haven’t been there for a long time, I read a lot about the park online as well as in my reference books and magazines while writing. Sarabande, for example, sees popular lakes, mountains and trails in the park. I want to make sure that I have the descriptions right as well as how far apart they are from each other—I don’t want my character hiking between them faster than it’s possible in real life. At the same time, I’m always checking the blooming seasons of the wildflowers I mention, the typical times when the snow melts off in the summer, and the habits of the animals that appear in the book. I want the readers to feel like they are following my character through the glacier-carved valleys of the area called “the back bone of the world.”

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I “see” the characters the way one “sees” things in his or her memory. When they appear to me, they develop ways of talking and moving about it a physical space. Since I have no knowledge of women’s clothing or hairstyles, I’ll have a general idea about the look I want, but I’ll either ask my wife or look things up online to find out what a certain kind of clothing or hairstyle is called. Once in a while, I’ll see a celebrity picture that “looks just like” my female character, and she will become a model for them—but only insofar as looks, posture, facial expressions, etc. When the characters interact with each other, they act as they act. This seems more natural to me than, say, making a list of characters and then jotting down a list of characteristics for each. They grow, of course, as the novel moves forward and, for a writer, that’s fun to watch.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I usually write straight through the novel from beginning to end to see what’s going to happen. Occasionally, a scene will feel wrong, too long or out of place, and I’ll edit it or move it. Or, something will occur to me in chapter five that needs to be foreshadowed earlier. Writing on a computer makes it very easy to cut and paste, move things around, or go back to earlier parts of the book and drop in a bit of material. Most of my ideas for what I’m going to write next in a novel-in-progress occur to me while I’m going other things. This gives me a lot of time to think about them, tinker with them, and mull over the impact they might have on earlier or later scenes in the book long before I start typing them. This keeps things on track because the story has a natural flow to it that becomes apparent as I “live it” from day to day. My wife always knows when I’m writing a novel because I walk around like somebody who’s either possessed or off in another world.

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

My goal is always to tell an interesting and absorbing story. I don’t write with an agenda or in hopes that when the reader gets to the end of the book an apparent “moral of the story” will jump out at them. All of my fantasies are “nature friendly,” so readers are always going to be experiencing the location settings in the novels in a “green” manner, so to speak. Sarabande faces issues that often come up in patriarchal societies. Reading about how she deals with these issues may provide readers with another perspective about women’s rights and about the bonds between women and the natural world. But first, I want readers to get wrapped up in the drama, the humor, and the unforeseen plot twists, and have a wonderful reading experience. Going away with “food for thought” is icing on the cake.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I write from a third person restricted point of view. This means that I am always with only one character from start to finish; everything in the book is filtered directly or indirectly through that character’s eyes, ears and thoughts. The challenge here, especially with some of the deeply personal women’s issues in the plot, was putting myself into a woman’s point of view and keeping it realistic. I did not want the book to sound like it was written by a man who was speculating about how a woman might talk, act, and re-act to the ordeals in the storyline. The challenge was making the story truly seem as though it were being told by a woman and that all of it rang true to the women reading the book.

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

I do everything possible to avoid having a writing schedule, much less a daily word-count goal. The story unfolds as it unfolds. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, much less when my characters or my muse or the universe are going to fill me in on the next scene or chapter. Sitting down to write at a specific time or forcing out a set number or words each day would ruin the flow. This sounds like a lazier approach than it is. Whenever I have a novel in progress, I am rather obsessed with it. It is always on my mind. Basically, I’m much better off when I’m actually writing it than when I’m not writing it.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing and are listed there on my author’s page. I’ve been posting about the experience of writing this novel on my Sarabande’s Journey blog. “Sarabande” first appeared on Kindle on August 13 and is expected to be released as a paperback August 31. Thanks so much, Pat, for chatting with me about my work. Your questions force me to think more about what I’m doing and why.

Click here to read an excerpt of: Sarabande by Malcolm R. Campbell

Nicole Izmaylov, author of the Dracian Dance

What is your book about?

It’s about some dragons and this girl who dies, only to forge a new peace between two warring civilizations. The Draçian Dance is set in the “exploration period,” around the 1700s. Sarah Lynn Loque, whose parents are presumed dead, goes with her bumbling Uncle Richard to explore the New World and find her missing father; however, when she learns that she will merely be helping the other women in cooking, cleaning, etc., she runs away into the jungle, expecting to perhaps meet some “savages,” as Uncle Richard likes to say. Oh, yes, Sarah Lynn does indeed meet some “savages”—but of a curiously Draçian sort: The Draçar are great feathered dragons, capable of flight and telepathy. Some of the Draçar wish to make peace with the explorers, yet others want to fight for their territory and eradicate the invaders from the face of the planet. As the “peaceful” Draçar pressure Sarah Lynn to be their translator, and the “warring” Draçar attempt to murder her, along with the other humans, she and Tag’ren, her Draçian friend, find themselves caught in a crossfire between two civilizations who never should have met.

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

Everyone in my stories is based off of someone I know—either in real life or as a fictional character. One would expect for Sarah Lynn to be my “hidden character,” but actually, she is based off of one of my best friends. In reality, my “hidden character” is the bumbling, fretting, uncoordinated Uncle Richard. I won’t lie: I like to pretend, but really, I’m not brave or adventurous. That’s why I read books—so that I can have an adventure without ever leaving my house.

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

Hm. Well, my favorite character is Uncle Richard, because he’s the biggest worrier I’ve ever seen in addition to eating constantly, a combination of traits which, yes, describe me. My other favorite character is even more surprising. It’s . . . Kor’lir, leader of the warring Draçar, whose goal is to “destroy the Wingless! Muahahah!” I like him because he’s ruthless, power-hungry, and ambitious. He begins the story as a more or less “political villain,” but he swiftly descends into cold-blooded murder madness, to the point where he rips a poor man’s head off just because he, bent on stabbing the Draçar through the chest, was running with a sword straight at Kor’lir. Wait, maybe Kor’lir did have a right to that murder.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Let’s see. It’s 60,000 words, and I was writing some 3,000 words a day. That’s twenty days. In reality, it took me slightly longer (about a month), because I meticulously wrote about 30,000 words, deleted my entire plot summary, and tried again. That’s the thing about writing. You have to learn to toss months of work out a five story window, only to realize that you also just tossed out that autographed DVD of your favorite movie of all time. But that’s life.

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

Usually, I’ll have a very vague, general idea. For example: What if, when the explorers came to the New World, there were dragons instead of Native Americans? Then, I’ll, in my mind, plan out, roughly, the “three parts” of my story. After that I just start writing. Ta-da, half a year, The Draçian Dance is published. Incidentally, the current book I’m working on is set around the question, What if a panther, thinking that is a deformed wolf, was brought up by wolves? Hello, next book. Pleased to meet you.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

Is “I don’t know” an answer? My characters always seem to develop themselves. I’ll write several “test tracks” (that’s what I call them) for each major character. What do I mean by test track? I’ll choose a character first. I have a list of one hundred different themes, such as “Dark,” “Through the Fire,” “Cat,” and “Puzzle.” I’ll use a random number generator to pick one of the themes, then use that as the name of a short story I write about that character. Sometimes, it’s easy, such as writing “Drive” for the character of Kor’lir. Usually, it’s difficult, like when I had to write “Seeking Solace” for Uncle Richard. However, that test track gave me an entirely new insight on Uncle Richard’s character. After I write the test tracks, the characters seen to come alive and guide me in the story.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Good question (should’ve thought of it myself)! I split my book into three parts. In the case of The Draçian Dance, I unfortunately was not able to put the names of the three parts in my story, mostly due to changing the number of chapters from twenty-one to twenty. Originally, the three parts were going to be Humans, Draçar, and A Destiny Intertwined. Funnily enough, the phrase“Humans. Draçar. A Destiny Intertwined,” became the novel’s tagline. I force myself to stay on track, but I allow myself to add additional storylines into the book as I go, as long as the words in my plot summary are still true.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I come from a family that is very centered in novels and writing. My grandfather, for example, wrote several books around World War II. When I write, I tend to incorporate elements of the Russian and Ukrainian fairy tales and stories I grew up with, often without realizing it. While rereading The Draçian Dance, I had several “A-ha!” moments as I came upon a passage or plot twist that sounded like something right out of the Russian version of a tall tale.

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

Oh, yes. If I didn’t, I’d never write anything. When I was young and foolish (and I still am), I would try for a certain amount of pages each day. This turned into a long list of dialogue that looked like this:
“What, Jonnie?”
“What rhymes with spot?”
“Um . . . hot? Jot? My lovely-special tater tot?”
“What’s a tater tot?”

Then I wised up a teensy bit and started writing a certain amount of words. Now, I usually don’t do my hardcore writing during school; I prefer to write over winter vacation, spring break, summer vacation, or turkey break—I mean, Thanksgiving. For test tracks, I’ll write one or two a day. For my actual novels, I’ll write a certain amount, say 3,000 words a day, in 1,000 word increments.

I find that, unless a chapter is exceptionally long (such as major fight or rescue scenes) or exceptionally short (usually the ones following said fight scenes), 3,000 words is the perfect chapter length. I break that up into three 1,000 segments. When I write, I don’t think of it as chapters in a book, but rather episodes in a television show. Most serial television shows split their twenty-two minute long episode into three segments of about seven minutes. Similarly, I break each chapter into said 1,000 word segments. Just like television shows, which usually end with the problem solved and sometimes with a cliffhanger (although there is always the overarching plot), my chapters end either with the chapter-problem solved or with a cliffhanger. Also, like one-hour specials, I pair together a 4,000 (or some variation thereof) word chapter and a 2,000 word chapter into a big mega-chapter, where the long one is the problem and the short one is the aftermath.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write? Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

Actually, yes. Before I sit down to write, I check my favorite forum, reply to any messages, read one article from my favorite news site, and make a random line of text (ajdf;aqkdfakqdjffaifuei;thekfna;3) before actually sitting down to write. Then I write 1,000 words in thirty minutes. I tend to write very early in the morning (before the sun rises) or very late at night (after the sun sets), leading me to believe I may or may not be turning into a vampire.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

“Who?” The trouble is, I have no idea who he was. It was after a book signing or workshop or something, and this kid came up to me to said, “Miss, you really inspired me today. Thank you. Please keep writing. My mom says you should never give up. Miss, please don’t ever give up.” Then he vanished. Reader, please don’t ever give up.

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, yes, yes! I can’t reveal who it is, but there is one character in The Draçian Dance that dies towards the very end. I could simply not kill him. I really couldn’t. So, I closed my eyes (no, really) and typed up his death. Then I opened them and fixed the seplling mitsaeks spelling mistakes.

However, even more than killing off a character, I find having a character leave the story is much harder. If they die, they are still in the story, spiritually, but not if the character him/herself actually leaves the group forever. We’re talking the end of Lord of the Rings where (spoiler alert!) Frodo and company up and leave their homeland. Forever. Unfortunately, in several of my next books, that sort of thing will happen. Especially where a certain Rin Darkwolf is concerned. But let’s not get into him quite yet. The Songs of the Stars is still a long way off from becoming much more than a hazy plan in my mind and a plot summary on my computer.

Where can readers learn more about your books?

You can buy The Draçian Dance or my award-winning children’s book Ronnie and BB on

A. F. Stewart, Author of Once Upon a Dark and Eerie

What is your book about?

My latest book is a collection of short fiction and poetry, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… It’s a mishmash of drabbles, flash fiction, short stories and poetry written in the genres of dark fantasy, sci-fi and horror. It’s also my first foray into publishing a manuscript exclusively as an ebook. You can find it on Smashwords ( among other online stores.

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

I really hope there is very little of me in my characters since many of them tend to be immoral, vicious, bloodthirsty killers, or unwise enough to get themselves into situations where they are maimed or killed. Well, maybe they share my odd sense of humour.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My Scottish/Celtic heritage has influenced my writing quite a bit, since I use that history and culture in my stories. And being Canadian, I grew up reading as much British history as I did of Canada’s past, so that’s probably why good old Britain keeps finding its way into my books.

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

I don’t keep much of a writing schedule. I basically write when I feel like writing or when I have time, although I do try and write something every day even if it’s just a paragraph or a line.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got two books simmering at the moment. I’m still working on my musical wizards fantasy novel, Song of the Wind and Sea. I had to fix some kinks in the plot, but things are getting back on track. I’m also working on a short dark fantasy novel, Ruined City, which has an unusual format. The story of a cursed city is told through twelve separate, but interconnected, short stories.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I do have the target audience of fantasy lovers, but I think anyone who likes a nice dark psychological tale of mayhem would like my books. Even with vampires, wizards and an occasional ghost thrown in the mix.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

The most difficult part is writing the middle section of the plot. I’m great at churning out beginnings and endings, but I always have to work at writing the stuff in between.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

For me, the easiest element of writing is the dialogue. I rarely have a problem with the flow of dialogue. Possibly because I can hear all those character voices whispering in my head.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes. Things keep coming out of my head on to the page. Of course it has to be polished and edited and tweaked, but I seldom have trouble working out the problems and the plot points. I only had one instance so far where I had major writer’s block.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Currently, I have probably a dozen or more short stories and book ideas bouncing around in my brain. Some of them are being written and some are still germinating.

What do you like to read?

I like fantasy, science fiction and mysteries best, but I read anything that looks interesting, from general fiction to romance to historical fiction.

What writer influenced you the most?

I think that title would have to go to Ray Bradbury. He’s not my favourite writer (that credit juggles between Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay), but his lyrical writing style impressed itself on my mind more than anyone I’ve read. And Harlan Ellison probably snuck his influence into my mind as well.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Don’t treat it like one big ad campaign. Book promotion is more than promos and emails saying “buy me”. You need to interact with the public, give them free excerpts, contests, discussions, answer questions, and get them interested in you and your book.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. I have a dark fantasy vampire novella, Chronicles of the Undead, two other fantasy short fiction collections, Passing Fancies and Inside Realms, two books of poetry and two slightly humorous, non-fiction books about action movies.

Where can people learn more about your books?

The best place to learn about my books is either my website,, or my page at, . You can also check out my blog,,  or my Twitter feed,

See Also:

  • The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart
  • Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart
  • Jakob Faircrow, one of the main characters in Wintermoon Ice, the first book of The Sons of the Mariner series by Suzanne Francis.

    Bertram: Who are you?

    Jakob: Jakob Tomas Faircrow

    Bertram: Where do you live?

    Jakob: On Earth, in a place called Cloudy Bay.  But I’ve lived a lot of other places too.  Suzanne liked me so much she decided to use me in Sons of the Mariner, but I started out in Song of the Arkafina, in a book called Ketha’s Daughter.

    Bertram: What is your story?

    Jakob: I came to Earth to protect Tessa Kivelson.  We have a connection from before this life that I don’t understand.  I love her very much, and she somehow tolerates me too.

    Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?

    Jakob: I’m the screwup of my own story.  If you want hero you should talk to my twin brother Lut.

    Bertram: What is your problem in the story?

    Jakob: I’m haunted by the memory of my dead wife, who eventually comes back to life in a horribly twisted way.

    Bertram: Do you embrace conflict?

    Jakob: It embraces me, and I have to fight back.

    Bertram: Do you run from conflict?

    Jakob: Never.  I’d have to turn my back on it, and that would be a mistake.

    Bertram: How does the author see you?

    Jakob: She makes me seem a lot more sensitive than I really am.  Suzanne writes for other women, and they like to read mushy stuff.  I don’t mind too much–it pays the bills.

    Bertram: Do you have a hero?

    Jakob: My father.  He was a God — the Mariner, but he never used his power indiscriminately.  He wanted a simple, quiet life with the people he loved.

    Bertram: Do you have any special strengths?

    Jakob: I have the physical strength of ten regular guys.

    Bertram: Do you have any special weaknesses?

    Jakob: See above.  My strength makes me dangerous as hell.  Especially to people I care about.

    Bertram: Do you have any skills?

    Jakob: I can navigate the worlds between.

    Bertram: Do you have money troubles?

    Jakob: I don’t care about money or personal possessions.

    Bertram: What do you want?

    Jakob: To stay out of trouble.

    Bertram: What do you need?

    Jakob: My girlfriend Tessa.  She is my rock and my harbor.

    Bertram: What do you want to be?

    Jakob: Calmer and more rational.

    Bertram: What do you believe?

    Jakob: That the world is a dangerous place.

    Bertram: What makes you happy?

    Jakob:  Eating fast food.  Watching old movies with Tessa.  Going fishing with my brother.  Staying in one place.  The passage of time.

    Bertram: What are you afraid of?

    Jakob:  Too many things to mention.  The Gyre is a dangerous place.

    Bertram:  What makes you angry?

    Jakob:  Stubborn people who won’t do what’s good for them.

    Bertram:  What makes you sad?

    Jakob:  Thinking about Maia.

    Bertram:  What, if anything, haunts you?

    Jakob:  That my father left without saying goodbye.

    Bertram:  Have you ever failed at anything?

    Jakob:  I’ve failed at everything.

    Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

    Jakob:  I don’t give them the chance.

    Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

    Jakob:  Every woman in my life.  My mother died because of my stupidity.  My wife died because I failed to protect her.  It’s only a matter of time before I screw up my relationship with Tessa as well.