Interview with author Katharina Gerlach

Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket? If you enjoy twisted fairy tales, you might enjoy Katharina Gerlach’s newest book, The Stepmother. Meet Katharina below and hear about her stories.

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 Katharina GerlachWhat genre(s) do you write?  I write novels, novelettes, and short stories in fantasy realms and historical times. Sometimes, I mix those, and on very rare occasions, I write SciFi or Horror. Most of my stories are aimed at young adult readers, but more often than not, readers of other age groups like them too.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  Oh… I’ll do this in the stiff, and old-fashinoned author bio-style. I love speaking about myself in third person (makes me sound more important). 😀
Born and raised German with a generous helping of an adopted Scottish heritage, Katharina started writing at age seven (although she didn’t get serious until much later) when the tomboy adventures she lived in her father’s forest weren’t enough for her imagination any more.
Writing about balloon people, flying hearts, giant spiders, and more was her lifeline to sanity and Real Life™ all through her education. After finishing with a PhD in science, marriage and the start of a beloved but distracting family, she returned to her life-long vocation.
These days, Katharina lives for stolen moments of writing happiness in two languages while juggling her husband, two girls in puberty, a fledgling daughter that just left the house, a dog, and … laundry.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I have always been telling stories for as long as I can remember. Inspiration comes from everything that sparks my interest. You could say I’m a writing addict.

What is the last book you read?  I’m currently reading “The Islands of Chaldea” by my all time favorite author Diana Wynne Jones (co-written with her sister). It’s sad to know that this is the last “new” story I’m going to get from her. She died a while back.

Which writers inspire you? Astrid Lindgren, Edith Nesbit, Neil Gainman, Alan Dean Foster, Holly Lisle, Jean Marlow, Danyelle Leafty, and many, many more.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00019]Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “The Stepmother: Little Brother, Little Sister”?  I’m currently writing a series of twisted fairy tale retellings. “Little Brother, Little Sister” is my mother-in-law’s favorite tale. Since I’m a stepmother myself, it was an obvious choice.

Can you tell us something about the story?  Isabel, the stepmother, has been searching the known world for her runaway children without finding them. Hoping against hope, she’s on her way to the kingdom where she was born. However, the Old Forest she has to travel is a dangerous place.

Who do you think will like reading your book?  Everyone who likes a twisted fairy tale will like my books regardless the reading age. Even though the protagonist is not a young adult any more, her feelings are true (which seems to be the most important thing in YA literature). I think Isabel will appeal to anyone who’s ever loved – be it a man, a child, or a pet.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment?  Yes. I’ve written part 3 (Beauty and the Beast) and 4 (The Hut in the Forest) of the series already. After Christmas, I’ll sit down and prepare the next two novellas in the series.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available?
The Stepmother is already available for preorder on Amazon. Other retailers will follow soon. The first volume in the series, “The Dwarf and the Twins” (a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red), is also available from amazon. I’ll be releasing the print versions of both books close to the end of the month.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?   BIC – but in chair 😀
For most authors, it is impossible to hit it bog right from the start. So, the more stories you write, the better they get, and the more you publish the easier your books will be to find by potential fans.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those?  Of course, I’m thrilled when I get a good review, and bad reviews sting a little, but none of them will change the way I write. The mixed ones might though because reviewers writing those usually notice things I haven’t realized about my own writing. That gives me a chance to improve. However, I appreciate any kind of review, even if its only the minimum number of words (25 on Amazon) because it is a gift of time from a reader for me.

If you review others’ books, what is your approach to reviewing those?  I try to be as fair as I can be (reviews are always subjective). Usually, I point out what is very much a matter of taste as well as the things that were good about the story or those that can be improved. Sometimes, when I’m short on time, I’ll write very short reviews. The most important thing is to write one.

Where can we find out more about your work?  The easiest way to keep up with my publishing schedule is by leaving your eMail address with me (you’ll get a free eBook as a thank you). Or you can have a look at my amazon page or my homepage. I’m also on Facebook, Pinterest, and (occasionally) on Twitter.

lines5Info about the book The Stepmother: An imaginative retelling of “Little Brother, Little Sister” by the Brothers Grimm. What if they painted a wrong portray of the stepmother? Even with her powers as a witch, Isabel cannot find a trace of her stepchildren. Desperate, she crosses the Old Forest, filled with as much malignant as benevolent magic, to reach the distant mountain kingdom she left as a young girl when her magical powers manifested. She soon realizes that a sinister creature holds the unsuspecting kingdom in thrall. It will take all she’s able to give to save her children and the kingdom she once loved.

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Author Interview – HL Burke

If your reading tastes include fantasy, dragons and romance HL’s books might be for you! [Make sure to reach the end and enter HL’s Rafflecopter giveaway.]

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HLBurkeWhat genre(s) do you write? Fantasy for the most part. I do play around with the YA category and a lot of my books have a strong romantic element, so I usually classify them fantasy/romance. I am currently working on a piece that is meant for children, though it still contains fantasy elements, just in a funnier, lighthearted way.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a talker so it is hard to tell a “little bit” about anything. I get carried away. I have been writing seriously since I was a teenager, but my “day job” is being a mom and a wife. I have two little girls who I am raising to be my minions and we cos-play together from time to time. My husband’s a Marine so we move around a lot, and I kind of like that. It keeps life from getting stale.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? No idea. I started really early. I’ve just always had a head that wanted play time to involve elaborate stories, and when it was too difficult to get my friends and siblings to act out my scenarios for me, I fell back on dictating them to my mom. Then I learned how to actually write (I mean, use a pencil and paper and spell words) and started writing down my ideas. Most of my early stories starred me and my friends, but when I got into Lord of the Rings and Star Wars I started experimenting with more fantastic genres.

What is the last book you read? It was actually a really short book about things that have names that we don’t usually know, like aglet being the plastic part at the end of a shoelace and zarf being a decorative holder for a handle-less coffee cup: The Whatchamacallit. It would be a great book for a writing prompt exercise, actually, like “Can you incorporate ‘aglet’ into a piece of flash fiction?”

Which writers inspire you? It’s funny because I have a short list of favorite writers and I don’t write like any of them. A big influence on me was George MacDonald. I love Tolkien, Kate DiCamillo, and Dostoevsky. I probably owe the most to Gail Carson Levine who introduced me to the full length fairy tale (though other authors do it well too, she was the first I read).

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, Dragon’s Curse? I was playingcoverdesign2 around with various fairy tale ideas like, “What if the princess didn’t want to be rescued because she liked the dragon better than the knight?” The earliest versions of this story involved a knight making a deal with a dragon to kidnap a disinterested lady so the knight could impress her by “rescuing” her only to have the lady side with the dragon. It obviously got stretched from that point by quite a bit and there were other elements at play, but I fear discussing them would give away plot points.

Can you tell us something about the story? As mentioned above, it is about a woman, in this case a scholar, who travels to a new kingdom to heal a king wounded by a dragon. Then a dragon with an agenda moves into the area and starts taunting the king. Shannon, my healer/heroine, takes it upon herself to negotiate with the dragon and ends up liking him better than the majority of the humans hanging around the castle.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? In tone, the first book (or movie) that comes to mind is The Princess Bride. I see my audience as primarily female, but guys have liked it to. It is a clean story, safe for teens. If you like fairy tales and fun adventure with a little bit of tongue and cheek humor, I think you’ll like Dragon’s Curse.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? A few weeks ago a friend sent me a picture of a cat rubbing up against a statue of a dragon, and I sent her back a one page story about a cat who moves in with a dragon, but the more I played with the idea, the more I realized there was potential for a middle grade chapter book. I’m enjoying writing a kitten as a main character. The dragon assumes the kitten is his pet, and the kitten assumes the dragon is his pet, so it is a fun dynamic.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? I have four novels currently available for purchase on Amazon, three in the same series as Dragon’s Curse (It is a four part series. I’m currently doing edits on book four and hope to have it available in December of this year) http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/h-l-burkes-novels.html.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Don’t worry about being original or good or publishable or anything. Just write. Honestly, most ideas have been done before, most first drafts are sandpaper rough, and publishing is something to think about on final drafts. Especially now with self-publishing being so easy, you don’t really have to write to a market if you don’t want to. If your goal is simply, like mine was, to have someone read and enjoy your book, there is probably someone out there who will read and enjoy it the way you want to write it, not the way market trends tell you to write it.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I’ve been fortunate so far not to have gotten a truly bad review. The closest I’ve come is someone recently gave a short story I wrote a two star rating on Goodreads (which on Goodreads means “it was okay” so you could argue that’s not a “bad” rating), but since there was no review attached, I’ll never know why. I don’t mind mixed reviews so much. They do sometimes give me ideas of where I can improve in the future, but I never was under the impression that my book was for everyone. As long as it is a five star book to some readers, I’m happy.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I have a hard time reviewing books. I never feel I have anything particularly useful to add. I personally try to tell what I would want to know picking up the book as a reader. Like, is it funny? Does it have a message? Is the tone dark or light (which is important because sometimes I want a book to suit my current mood)? Is it overall entertaining? Does it read quickly? I’m one of those readers who just gives a star rating without a written review 90% of the time though.

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Links:  facebooktwitterGoodreadsAmazon, Website

Blurb: On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

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Author Interview – Karin Gastreich

If you enjoy epic fantasy, you might enjoy reading this author’s books. [Scroll to the bottom for a sample of the audio book AND a Rafflecopter giveaway.]

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Karin Rita GastreichWhat genre(s) do your write? I write epic fantasy, in the tradition of J.R.R Tolkien, centered on complex and realistic women characters.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I grew up near Kansas City. Both my parents have a strong German heritage. One of my favorite memories from my childhood are the trips we took to visit family in Germany. That’s where I fell in love with castles and medieval-style towns.

In college, I studied ecology and went on to get a PhD in this field. As a graduate student, I did my research in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, where I eventually met my husband. Right now, I am an associate professor of biology at Avila University in my home town of Kansas City. I live between two countries, the United States and Costa Rica.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I have been writing ever since I can remember. The first story I wrote was based on a dream I had when I was a little girl. It was a sort of dark fairy tale, with knights and ladies and much danger, all set in a medieval town. My mother woke me up for breakfast before I finished the dream, so I decided to write the ending. I’ve been making up stories ever since.

What is the last book you read? The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson. It is an extraordinary novel based on a Japanese legend about a fox who falls in love with a man.

Which writers inspire you? It’d be impossible to list them all. J.R.R. Tolkien andEolyn_Audio Cover compressed T.H. White provided the seeds of inspiration for my own journey in fantasy. I’m also a great admirer of Gioconda Belli and other Latin American authors, such as Mario Benedetti, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There are many authors of history and historical fiction on my list of favorites, including Elaine Pagels, Richard Holmes, Philippa Gregory, and C.W. Gortner.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Eolyn”? Many people, places, and events inspired Eolyn, but I think at the heart what most motivated me was a desire to write epic fantasy in which women played meaningful roles without having to wield a sword. (That’s not to say women don’t wield swords in this world; it’s just that they don’t always need to in order to play hardball with the guys.)

Can you tell us something about the story? Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets the mysterious boy Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of friendship, love, betrayal, and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

Eolyn is a stand-alone novel, and the first of three companion books. The second novel, High Maga, was released this past spring in print and ebook format. High Maga will also be available as an audiobook this fall. The third and final novel of the series, Daughter of Aithne, is in progress, with a release scheduled in 2015.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who enjoys Tolkien or George R.R. Martin will like Eolyn. It will also appeal to readers of T.H. White and Patricia McKillip, and to all fans of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Although Eolyn is a fantasy, it reads like a historical fiction novel, so followers of that genre will probably also enjoy the book.

While Eolyn shares elements in common with these works and authors, I am really hard pressed to identify a novel that is “similar”. Eolyn’s journey is unique. Her story stands apart from much of the fantasy I have read, in that it is woman-centered and features a large cadre of women characters, without sacrificing the complexity and humanity of its men.

Think in the tradition of historical fiction author Philippa Gregory, who has made an effort to paint history from the perspective of women. This is what I am trying to do with respect to the genre of fantasy. Eolyn is a woman navigating a medieval-style world that is largely ruled by men. She confronts extraordinary challenges in this context, and she puts her unique talents to work in order to make a positive difference in the history of her people.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I am currently hard at work on the third and final novel of this series, entitled Daughter of Aithne. If everything goes well, we will be releasing this novel toward the end of next year.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Eolyn and its companion novel High Maga are both available from Hadley Rille Books, [hrbpress.com]. They can be purchased in Kindle, Nook, or epub format, and are also available in paperback editions. The audio edition of Eolyn can be purchased through Amazon or itunes. We are in production for the audio edition of High Maga, and are looking forward to its release this fall.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Enjoy the journey. Be authentic. Take care of yourself and live life to the fullest. Write from the heart and your stories will always be unique.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? All reviews are good reviews, whether the reader had a positive or negative experience. I appreciate every single review I get, because that says someone has read and thought about my books.

I wish more readers were aware that the number one way to support an author is by writing a review, either on Amazon, Goodreads, or through some other venue. Having a variety of reviews helps prospective readers find the novels that are right for them. With a range of reviews, we are better able to sell books to precisely the people who will most enjoy them. This creates a ripple effect as new (and happy) readers share their discovery with friends and fellow book enthusiasts.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? First of all, I do not review books I don’t enjoy because I rarely finish them. Life is too short to read a bad book.

On the flip side, I always review books I read and enjoy, for the same reason I mentioned before: it’s the number one way to support an author.

I try to be honest and complete in my reviews, but also brief. I identify elements of the book that I really enjoyed, and also details that didn’t quite work for me. At the end of my reviews, I try to identify exactly what kind of reader(s) would enjoy this particular novel.

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Author Interview – William Hahn

The Kalieri don’t threaten with dungeoms (we have truth potions AND the ability to tell if someone lies). One of the Guardian Clans’ mages has determined that If you enjoy fantasy, you might want to take a peak at Will Hahn’s world. [Rafflecopter giveaway below]

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LoHI_JT_front_coverWhat genre(s) do your write? My tales are all set in the Lands of Hope, a world of epic and heroic fantasy. And I’m not trying to wiggle out of your first question, but I sincerely believe that if you write about another world, you’ll probably venture into all genres- there are already touches of horror, mystery, thriller, and maybe even a hint of erotica in the tales I have out there. After all, these are stories about people!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? A little bit, probably not! After all, I write “epic”. But a friend threw down the six-word-bio challenge, and I came up with this: Born Vermont, five sisters, survived both.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I was blessed to have a very literate and thoughtful environment as a child, and was always writing something- comedy routines, a radio play, and probably some of the longest and worst love letters ever to meet the alphabet. But the Lands of Hope, that’s a bit easier. I had a revelation on a weekend with friends, June 22nd 2008 and came home at last determined to take the three decades of notes I had compiled about the Lands and chronicle them. Or at least start to! The good die young, so I think I still have some time.

What is the last book you read? In the past year most of what I’ve read has been the online offerings of fellow authors. But at the moment I’m nearing the end of a most remarkable book, written in 1941 by an American who had served in the US Embassy in Berlin for years under the early Nazi regime. His book is entitled “You Can’t Do Business with Hitler” which seems like a laugh-line now but was a serious argument that needed to be made at the time. A truly remarkable piece of history written just before we entered the war ourselves.

Which writers inspire you? Tolkein, Lewis and LeGuin because, duh. Mary Renault and Ariana Franklin for mastering the art of historical fiction and making it seem as exciting as fantasy. Barbara Tuchmann for writing about history in such detail that it seemed… as exciting as fantasy. Stephen R. Donaldson who wrote the Mirrors of Mordant, probably the single most enjoyable read I’ve ever had. And I must also include the great pulp authors like Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and the Marvel Comics bullpen.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Games of Chance”? This is going to be a little tricky- confession incoming. I’m not a writer, you see, but a chronicler. I don’t get ideas, and I certainly have no control over these heroes. The Lands of Hope are visible to me- I cannot explain it any better than that- and when I’ve watched them long enough I describe what I’ve seen and heard to the reader.

Can you tell us something about the story? It’s all a question of where I direct my attention, you know? In the Lands of Hope, a small number of people choose to break with the customs and traditions of their ancestors, and go on adventures in direct imitation of their ancient heroes. Adventurers are usually despised by “right-thinking” folk but they certainly have interesting lives. Ever since I first started looking in on the Lands, though, there was one in particular, named Solemn Judgement but known as The Man in Grey. Even for an outcast he was different- and whereas adventurers usually went around in small groups, Judgement could not find a home even with them. I saw this about him, saw the terrible aloneness he endured, his driven nature and the great, miraculous deeds he took part in- but I had no idea where he came from. I suddenly realized as I watched him, Solemn is not nearly as old as everyone takes him to be… This story, Judgement’s Tale, is a result of my efforts to view those early days in the career of The Man in Grey. In Part One, Games of Chance, you can see how he first came to the Lands and the crucial events he was drawn to play a part in, while still just fifteen years old.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Judgement’s Tale is definitely epic fantasy fare- there are multiple venues, some deep mysteries and characters that I hope will stir the reader to empathize. As for similarities, naturally I bristle madam! Don’t you know everything that’s ever been written is utterly unique? No? Well, it has the I-don’t-belong-here idea you see in stories like Donaldson’s White Gold Wielder cycle. I notice several of the main characters are quite young, but it’s not much like T.H. White’s Once and Future King- this is a tale of folks who have to act grown up, quick. Certainly with the number of characters and the shifting points-of-view it may remind readers of the blockbusters of GRR Martin and Tad Williams. But I want to be clear- this is a tale of heroes, not “The Godfather in Chainmail” (my slightly-jealous nickname for Game of Thrones). The divide between Hope and Despair is sharp and visible.

Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? I have two WiPs, and asWill 3 you might imagine that doubles the rate at which I get almost nothing done. The sequel to Judgement’s Tale, The Eye of Kog, is about a quarter-drafted. But the immediate task remains, as it has for nearly two years, the third novella in the Shards of Light series, a tale called “Perilous Embraces”. It’s about half-done at 35,000 words and is without question the most difficult work I’ve ever attempted in the Lands of Hope. The main character is a beautiful female who can see the future- which is to say, I have almost no comprehension of her character. I mean, my lovely wife said “yes” when I asked her to marry me and I don’t even understand THAT.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? Games of Chance will be available July 4th at all the major online retailers. I regard Smashwords as my “home” platform and encourage anyone interested in the Lands to check out my current books there (links below). If you search for me at Amazon/Apple/B&N, try spelling my name as “Wm. L. Hahn” and the results should score.

Which writers inspire you? All the ones I mentioned above. I would also like to name Katharina Gerlach, for what she writes as well as the sheer volume and energy with which she tackles the job of being an indie author today. She’s an inspiration and it’s a pleasure to work with her, as she has been so much help to me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Keep at it. I live in a combined home-office/home-school with no walls, piccolo lessons, Disney Channel and three cats. Tic, tac, nudge goes the writing, pressed nearly flat between layers of life like that last squidge of toothpaste in the tube. And it took years but I have over a quarter-million words in publication, plus blog posts and more. If you write something, you are a writer! The rest is just a question of degree.

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I am very pleased and almost inordinately proud of the reviews I’ve received on the Tales of Hope. The online world has a problem with reviews right now: not just the sock-puppet one-stars, but the ghost-written/Uncle Jim pandering/ you-scratch-my-back five-stars too. Somehow we need to throttle it back, and accept that four of five is REALLY good, and even three stars should mean you liked the book and recommend it. This five-stars-or-bust mentality is grade inflation at its worst. I urge folks who’d like to know more to check out a site that’s trying a novel way to produce honest, high- quality reviews- it’s called BookVetter and the demos alone are well worth a visit.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I give peer reviews at my day job all the time- technology writing, very businesslike and rather colorless- so it’s a joy to review a book read for pleasure. I definitely lean towards the positive side, despite what I said above. But when I see a problem, I mention it- I try to clarify what this would mean for the audience (for example, that the writing level is not poor at all, but probably better for younger readers or something like that). A lot of blurbs try to make a book sound like you couldn’t possibly dislike it regardless of age, and that’s seldom true.

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Links: Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales. Will Hahn at Smashwords:ThePlane of Dreams– A band of adventuring companions finds their greatest challenge comes when the quest has ended. See the trailer!The Ring and the Flag–  Captain Justin races to save a rebellious barony from itself, with men who think he isn’t worthy to lead. Shards of Light Part One Fencing Reputation– The renowned stealthic Feldspar tries to unearth a dangerous artifact, and still keep his identity hidden, perhaps even from himself. Shards of Light Part Two Three Minutes to Midnight– If Trekelny is to steal the temple’s greatest treasure, he must take the love of its High Priestess with him. A brief tale of the early days. The Book of Tales– A short illustrated tome of legends from the distant past of the Lands, featuring magical beasts and heroes. The Lands of Hope Facebook Page (shows the chronology of the Lands and has news about publications)

Website: Will shares time with other indie authors at the Independent BookwormThe Compendium of the Lands and the Maps of Hope are freely available there. You can also find Will’s Blog Thoughts – Including tales of a happy childhood (which continues), hopes for a writer’s journey, and analysis of Classics You’ve Never Read.

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Author Interview – Kerry J. Donovan

If you enjoy reading thrillers and suspense, Kerry’s stories might just be your cuppa!

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What genre(s) do your write? In the main, I write crime fiction, character-centric police procedurals. Although my next publication, The Transition of Johnny Swift, is a paranormal thriller with a strong romantic thread running through the heart of the story.

KJD - head shotCan you tell us a little bit about yourself? Not a lot to tell, really. I’m a fifty-something, granddad, born in Ireland and now living in France. I have a PhD in exercise physiology, and used to be a cabinetmaker. Now, I write. That’s it.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? I’ve been writing since the moment I could hold a pen, and finished my first novel in 1985. But then life intervened and the family’s needs took over. When you have three small children, it is strange how often they needed to eat and writing wasn’t paying the food bills. I returned to writing again in 2011, after completing the renovation work on our cottage in Brittany.

What is the last book you read? Blue Lightning (Shetland) by Ann Cleves.

Which writers inspire you? The main crime fiction guys. People like Grisham, Connelly, Coben from the US, and historic fiction author CJ Sansome.

Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “The Transition of Johnny Swift”?KJD_The Transition of Johnny Swift - Cover The idea stemmed from the title, which came to me while waiting for someone at the bank to answer my call. You know the kind of thing. You’re hanging on a call and they’re playing that electronic music to fill in the time. Every now and again, a voice tells you ‘your call is important to us’, but they still don’t have time for you. I doodled on a note pad and came up with a title, ‘The Transition of Johnny Swift’.
Then I started asking questions. Who is Johnny Swift? Into what did he transition? The questions intrigued me enough to write the novel.

Can you tell us something about the story? To be honest, I find writing a synopsis the hardest part of the whole creative process, so I’ll leave it to someone who read an Advanced Review Copy, Michaela Miles. Her review says it all:

“The novel takes you through a championship-winning, romance-kindling high, to the spectacularly sensory and visceral realism of a horrifying train crash. But that, as they say, is just the beginning. We run a gauntlet of doctors, neurosurgeons, and psychiatrists, all while being courted by the mysterious Shadow-man. Who is he, what does he want, and is he even real?

To tell you that would be more than a spoiler, however I can say that the characters are well-rounded and easy to identify with and the plot orchestrates a masterful struggle between reality and fantasy; life and death. But the attention to detail is something I really love about Kerry’s work. Kerry is meticulous with his research and draws on his scientific background to add depth and realism to his writing that is lacking in a lot of books in his genres.

The Transition of Johnny Swift also has a lovely romantic thread woven through and it too has its share of struggles.

This book really has something for everyone, and is an intelligent and compelling read. It’s a fascinating trip into the blurry line between science-based fiction, psychological thriller, and the paranormal.”

*Blushes* I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? Anyone who likes a fast moving well told yarn. There are elements of thriller here, horror too, and a strong romantic thread running through the whole story.

KJD_Flynn Final Part 2 - 2Are you working on a new book or story at the moment? Of course. I’m always working on a new story. My current WIP is the next in my DCI Jones Casebook series, provisionally called ‘Portmanteau’. The novel is a series of cases worked by the Midlands Police Serious Crime Unit during the (fictitious) long hot summer of 2011. Lovers of my hero, Detective Chief Inspector David Jones, will learn more about him and his colleagues. The cases, although important to the novel, are more a vehicle I use to show the individual members of the team in all their flawed glory.

Where can people go to read your work and when will it be available? All my novels are available to order on Amazon, and you can find links on my website.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? The writing process is personal to each of us and there are no hard and fast rules. The only think I’d say is read loads and write more. You can’t be a writer without putting words down on paper, or into a word processor. That’s it, there is no secret. Write. Right?

Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? Reviews are the lifeblood of the writer—even negative ones. Notice I say ‘negative’ here, not ‘bad’. A negative review can be valuable if it is constructive and points out where a writer has missed the mark for that particular reader. Negative reviews can help us improve.


A bad review on the other hand, is nothing more than a rant. Fortunately, I’ve only ever received one bad review, which turned out to have been written by one of those inveterate trolls who like to cut people down for no reason.


On the other hand, I love good reviews—who doesn’t. It shows people are reading your work and liking it enough to sing your praises. I go gooey all over when I receive them, and fortunately, I’ve received quite a few.

If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? I like to be honest, but I’ll never give a totally negative review to an independent. If I can’t find something positive or supportive to say, I won’t crit. Likewise, if I can’t finish a book, I won’t review.
However, traditionally published novelists are fair game, especially if the typo count and the spelling and grammar errors are too high. I reckon, if a bestselling author is ‘dialing them in’, they deserve all the lambasts they receive. For me, there is no excuse for lazy writing or lazy editing, especially for a professional writer with the backing of a publishing house. We all make mistakes, but there’s no excuse in some cases. Rant ends.

Links: Kerry’s Website
The DCI Jones Casebook: Raymond Francis Collins  
 The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn

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Excerpt from Chapter 8 of “The Transition of Johnny Swift”
 
 Frank Brazier is with his sister, Paula. It’s early in the morning. They await the arrival of a train to take them to London where Paula is booked to give a piano recital at her university. Frank is the narrator:

I lead her towards the first class carriage at the head of the train and my legs falter.

Fuck, no!

The Shadow-couple again. Christ. Is it possible? They stand, hand in hand, positioning themselves between the train and me, and spread wide across the platform, barring my progress. My footsteps waver and I stop.

“What’s wrong, Frank?” Paula asks. “You’ve gone all Casper.”

I point along the platform at the dark shapes not fifty feet away. “Tell me what you see,” I ask, forcing the croaking words through a brick-dry throat.

Paula’s eyes narrow. “A train on the left and an elderly couple on the right. Apart from that, an empty platform.”

Cold fear grips my heart. Does she see the shadows as normal people?

“What old couple?”

“Frankie, stop messing about, you’re scaring me. There’s an old couple getting into our carriage, but that’s all. What’s wrong with you?”

All I can see are the shadows floating toward me, silent and fluid, growing larger. I lean to one side to see around them. An elderly man is helping a blue-rinsed woman board the train. He’s wearing a dark suit, shiny shoes. She’s in a print dress, a summer bonnet, and lilac jacket. The man follows her inside the carriage, pulling a pink suitcase behind him. In front of them, the Shadow-couple stops, spectre arms wide, barring my way. What am I going to do?

“Kidding, Screech,” I laugh. “Checking you’re awake.”

I grab Paula’s hand and step forward, holding my breath. With my eyes closed, we pass through them, through the Shadows.

A mist sprays the exposed skin of my face and hands. Silence descends. I shiver, but a moment later, we’re through into the light of the morning, warm and dry.

Birds chirrup in flight, and a guard blows a whistle. The train’s metal contracts and creaks as it cools. In the distance, a green bus passes over the main road bridge, sunlight glints off its vibrating windows. Steam rises from the brewery’s twin smoke stacks. The pungent stink of activated yeast will soon saturate the atmosphere, but we’ll be well on our way to London by then.

“Did you feel that?” I ask.

“Feel what?”

“The mist.”

Paula glances up at the cloudless sky. “How much did you have to drink last night? You sound like you’re attending one of my séances. C’mon train’s leaving.”

We dart forward and jump aboard before the doors close behind us. The carriage shudders and starts to roll along the track. I lower the window and poke my head through the gap. The empty platform disappears behind the train as the track curves away. The Shadows are no longer there. I take my seat.

Apart from the elderly couple sitting at the far end, we are alone, sitting opposite each other, both with a window seat. I face the engine, and let Paula travel backwards. The sun shines low, barely making it through the filthy windows, and bathes the carriage in a foggy, lemon glow. Despite the haze, the plush cabin is warm and bright.

The mist scared the crap out of me. Visions, I can explain away as figments of an over-excited race-day imagination, loose cells floating in front of my retina. But a mist? It wasn’t exactly clammy, but it definitely tickled my skin. That I felt something at all makes the whole vision thing real. Things are worsening by the day. Not one, but two Shadow people now. And they have a physical presence.

Where’s it going to end?

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