Interview with M. J. Heywood, Author of “The Web Across the Water”

What is your book about?

The Web across the Water is about two lonely souls, living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Lily and Brad meet on an internet chat room; Lily is a prolific internet thief and fraudster, who has been using the internet to trap victims for years. However, she throws herself into danger when she meets Brad and travels across the water to get closer. Brad has sinister intentions of his own. Once the pair have met, they are thrown into a tangled battle of wits in which both are in the deepest peril.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I am greatly inspired, if that is the correct word, by True Crime. The abhorrent nature of the master thieves and serial killers of the UK and USA are very fascinating to me, as I find them so difficult to understand. For this project, I enjoyed getting inside the heads of the two characters and describing actions which I found to be so against my values.

Who is your most likeable character?

Brad’s friend Phil, who works as a janitor in the apartment block where Brad resides is probably the most likeable of the characters. He provides the comic relief in the story, and has a light hearted view of the world, despite him having a difficult life living away from his sick daughter in order to find work. He is slightly naïve, and is a fun and charming man.

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

There is certainly a deep moral to the story. We live in a world which is now largely in the shadows after the beginning of the internet. Online we can be whoever we want to be, which can give us false confidence, and even if we have dark intentions ourselves, there is no telling who is looking through the other end of the wire. We give ourselves an access into worlds which would not have been accessible, but we can also be opening the door to people who we should not have any dealings with.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my second thriller novel, and have so far written about 40,000 words. It is a similar style of story, also looking at the darkness within, and it features one of the lesser characters from the first novel in a more central role, despite not being a sequel.

Does writing come easy for you?

I can get stuck from time to time, but overall, it comes a lot easier than I thought it would when I started. The only problem is, I deviate from my plan every so often, when I see an opportunity for a different outcome or a new story arc. I then have to go back through everything that I have written, in order to avoid plot holes.

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 notepad where I jot initial premises down. I also like to write a few chapters when the idea occurs, and I save them for a later date. In fact, before I started working on The Web… properly, I had the first chapter saved on my computer for a few months.

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

At the moment, just one more after this one; I started with three clear ideas, so once I reach the end of book three (which will be a direct follow-on) I will start to spend a little more time on letting the new ideas loose again.

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

Number one – characters with depth; they must have strengths as well as flaws and deep weaknesses. Number two – I believe everyone in a story should be disposable, and that no-one should be invincible. Invincibility makes a story weaker for me, as if you know that the main character(s) will survive, there is less tension. Number 3 0- A living, breathing place, described well enough to set the scene, but not too deep so that you restrict the imagination of the reader; I want to give them just enough so that they see what I need to see. For example, Eastport, Maine was the main focus of much of this story. I believe that it was a great choice for Brad’s hometown, as it was a pure and unspoilt location, relatable to many people who.

How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?

In this story, it was a mix of flashbacks, time jumps and material such as newspaper articles and police interviews.

Describe your writing in three words.

Tense, fast, different.

Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?

Yes. I write to entertain, and the thrill of writing is achieving the moments of suspense and tension, and the whole point is to know that it is having an effect on people. The reviews so far have shown that I was successful in my aims, so this was a rewarding feeling. I don’t mind how many read the story, but I wouldn’t be satisfied if nobody read it.

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

When writing Lily, I had Rosamund Pike in my mind, but this was before seeing her as Amy in Gone Girl, and she was totally brilliant in that role. Since then, I could only see the Gillian Jacobs as Lily, as long as she can pull off a British accent, which I am sure she could. She has been captivating in Love and plays a role of emotions and traits so convincingly. For Brad, I think Zach Efron would be a good fit. I feel that he could play the lighter, charming side of Brad very well, and I think he has a talent for portraying aggression too.

Who designed your cover?

I designed my cover myself, using royalty free images and the fantastic Gnu Image Manipulation Software. I was thrilled with the result, and have continued to do this with book two. I feel that I can achieve a professional looking cover which fits my vision. It is also good fun to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your book?

I am keen to connect with readers. My work can be found at the following link, and my wordpress is attached to this account.

Harley Michel, Protagonist of “The Doctor and the War Widow” by Viola Russell

Who are you?

I am Harley Michel, a lonely schoolteacher in the vibrant city of New Orleans, and the protagonist in Viola Russell’s THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW.

What is your problem in the story?

My life is currently devoid of any real adventure. I teach high school and go home every afternoon to my chocolate lab, Nico. My beloved mother recently died, and my husband John died ten years ago in Iraq. My colleagues, sensing my loneliness, challenged me to enter an online dating site. I was reluctant to do it, and some of the early dates were a disaster. Then, I met an older, handsome Egyptian doctor named Abisi. He also is widowed, and his marriage was marked by unhappiness and loss. Throughout the story, we both must adjust to each other and learn to trust after a great deal of grief.

Do you run from conflict?

I don’t think many people “like” conflict, but romance with Abisi, my new lover, puts me on the path toward conflict with my mother-in-law, some of my family and friends, my school administration, and even a psycho ex-girlfriend of Abisi’s.

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as a more than competent teacher and as a very creative writer, but I’m not a person who trusts easily. I long for adventure and for someone with whom I can restart my life and share adventures.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see my life as sad and lonely. Not all of them know of my secret writing life. No one understands the intensity of my feelings for my late husband or the passion I feel for Abisi, my new lover. None of them would believe I’m a tiger in the sack.

Do you have a hero?

My mother Eden was my hero. She taught me to respect myself and follow my dreams. I do that with my writing. I also know my mother would want me with someone I love and who could share my life with me. She wouldn’t want me to succumb to grief or to wallow in self-pity.

Do you have a goal?

My goal is to be a successful writer and to leave behind the paralyzing conformity of my current life. In many ways my life is good, but I am too locked in my comfort zone right now.

What do you regret?

I regret not having a child with my first husband. We tried but weren’t successful. I also regret that I didn’t follow my heart and pursue my writing much earlier.

Has anyone ever failed you?

In the novel, Abisi fails me on an issue of trust, and I wasn’t sure I could forgive him.

Did you get along with your parents?

I was the adored only child of my parents. My father used to take me riding on his Harley. That is how I acquired my name. My mother and I were best friends. I’m mourning her when the novel begins.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

I secretly write contemporary and historical romances. My colleagues and administrators have no idea I do this. My books are adventure-filled and deal with frank issues of sexuality.

What are the last three books you read?

I’ve recently read TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN by James Lee Burke. I love mysteries set in Louisiana, and Burke is a poet. I also recently re-read Barbara Tuchman’s A DISTANT MIRROR because I want to write a novel in that time period. Lastly, I read Julia Baird’s IMAGINE THIS. It’s a wonderful portrait of growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s and provides a compelling look at John Lennon’s early life.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

My life is too safe, too ordered. The writing is fulfilling, but I sometimes need someone and something to take me from the safety of my computer. Working at the computer is fine, but need to leave the isolation of the computer–only to return and create a better world when I write.

How do you envision your future?

I hope that life with Abisi will be filled with new experiences, challenges and love.

Where can people find out more about you?

Viola Russell, Author of “The Doctor and the War Widow”

What is your book about?

The Doctor and the War Widow is about Harley Michel, a lonely widow who has also just lost her mother. On a dare, she enters an internet dating site. After some disastrous encounters, she meets a handsome foreign doctor, but their past entanglements and hangups threaten their happiness. Harley still grieves for her husband, killed in Iraq. Abisi, the doctor, is also widowed, but he was once involved with a woman who still harbors feelings for him. She causes him and Harley a lot of grief.

What inspired you to write this story?

Well, internet dating is a very timely topic, and I liked the idea of two people who had a complicated history getting together.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Most people want to find true love, and many now internet date. Harley and Abisi have complicated pasts and lives. Many people who have a history do.

Tell us a little about your characters.

I don’t have a favorite character, but I think both of them are admirable. Harley wants true love but is holding onto her past. She has to change a great deal and take risks. Many people fear that.

Who is your most unusual/likable character?

I loved writing the character of her friend Donna. She is a true friend and very laid back.

What is your goal for the book?

I’d like people to see that risk-taking is acceptable and that true love is something we should all seek. Sometimes, loving means getting hurt, but it can also lead to real romance. They travel from New Orleans to London and then to Liverpool. It’s in Liverpool that he proposes marriage.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I love red wine when I write.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t always follow my dream. I only really started pursuing the craft in the last few years.

What writer influenced you the most?

Louisa May Alcott. I read “Little Women” and thought I was Jo. She made me want to write.

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