Category Archives: Hot Seat

J Matthew McKern in the HOT SEAT

Yes, that’s right, folks. It’s time for another scorching  HOT SEAT interview. Today’s victim willing participant is J Matthew McKern, otherwise known as Matt. Matt is very special to me. He designed the cover for my first novel, The Big Smoke, capturing the essence of the story in a way I could have only dreamed. So I figured, what better way to pay him back than by burning his toosh! 😀

Let’s get started… 

J Matt McKern

Gday, Matt!

What genre(s) do you write, Matt?

Young adult & middle grade. 

Tell us about your current WIP, I Didn’t Go Looking for Trouble, in 25 words or fewer! 

A road trip adventure starring a sixteen-year-old picker and a six-inch-tall sprite trying to save the family home from being repossessed by the bank.

[CJ: Haha, sounds like fun! However, compound adjectives such as ‘sixteen-year-old’ are not one word, which means you’ve used 28 words. Guess I’ll let you off this time… ;)]

Well, I could have said that it’s about Willy Storey, a girl with an independent spirit. All her life, all she’s known is antiques. Every summer since her mother died, Willy has traveled the midwest with her father buying antiques to resell at the family store. When the bank comes after their family home after Willy’s father is disabled in an accident, Willy takes matters into her own hands. She goes out on the road in her dad’s beat up old pickup truck to try to save the family business. But it’s going to take more than luck to succeed, it’s going to take a little bit of magic. Visiting small town midwest, Willy discovers something else that catches her by surprise, a devoted friend who might be able to lead her to treasure rumored to be hidden in a picture frame somewhere in Iowa.

[CJ: Yes, that would have been way more than 25 words!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

In my day job, I’m an Art Director, creating publications for the healthcare market. 16+ years now!

[CJ: So you’ve been in  your current job for the same length of time your main character has been alive. Don’t worry, that doesn’t make you old or anything… :P]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I begin with a scenario and strong characters. I definitely plot things out well in advance, but I find myself deviating from the path on a regular basis. One way or another, it’s all about the journey. 

[CJ: Sounds a bit like my process, actually!]

Coming from a fine-arts background, I believe I possess a very visual sensibility. I’m sure this will lead me into world-building projects in the not-too-distant future. But it’s the characters that engage me. Taking them apart and putting them back together again is what keeps me up late and wakes me early in the morning. It is my hope that the resulting combination results in stories that are impossible to put down. 

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

My golfing and fishing partner, Patrick Carman, is right up there. It’s definitely a plus to know someone who’s lighting the way. Going way back, Steven King was key to showing how to flesh out a world. For quirky characters, I’d say John Irving’s work was an inspiration. In the world of middle-grade fiction, Ingrid Law has been a recent favorite.   

[CJ: You lost me at golf. ;)]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Finding time to do it all without short-changing my family. I love to write on vacations, which has both upsides and downsides.

[CJ: Ah, yes. I know the feeling of not wanting to short-change the family. Especially now I have a bambino!]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you were given a glimpse of the future and knew nobody would ever read your writing, would you continue to write?

I would. I’m definitely one of those people for whom creative endeavors are a way of life. 

Finish this sentence from Willy Storey’s perspective:

Willy: Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is… the death of my mother, though I suppose in some ways I’ve always tried to pick up where she left off, trying to keep things from falling apart.

[CJ: Aww. Very sad…]

Now finish the same sentence from your own perspective.

Matt: Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is… the fact that my college professors failed to even attempt to illustrate the synergy between creativity and business.

[CJ: Okay… I’m intrigued. Why does that still bother you?]

Well, most of the blame should fall squarely upon my shoulders, but if I could go back and do it all again, I’d double-major. At the time, I felt what I’d describe as a cultural difference that I wouldn’t even imagine trying to bridge. If you’re talented and creative, don’t assume that someone will be there to provide a path to financial viability. You should learn at least a little about how to manage your own career. [Stepping down from soap box]

[CJ: Haha. Soap boxes are always welcome. Just make sure it doesn’t get too close to the HOT SEAT or it might catch fire! 😉 ]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’d like to hear more from Matt, check out his website or like him on Facebook

I Didn't Go Looking For Trouble cover

Available now!

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writers, Writing

Su Williams in the HOT SEAT

When Su Williams first lays eyes on the HOT SEAT, she begins to whimper and cry. It’s almost as if she’s having an extremely bad dream. But this ain’t a dream, Su. This is real. 

Let the  games begin. 😀 

What genre(s) do you write, Su?

Su Williams

Gday, Su!

Well, considering Dream Weaver is my first book, I write in YA paranormal fiction. I went to my first conference about 4 years ago and people were throwing around all kinds of genres I had no clue what they were…steam punk, high fantasy, space opera. Boy, did I get an education. I really didn’t know what genre I wrote in other than YA fiction. I recommend conferences to beginning writers as well as self-published writers. Conferences are a great way to make connections and learn the craft.

[CJ: I agree. I’ve only gone to one conference but I got heaps out of it.]

Tell us about Dream Weaver in 25 words or less! 

Dream Weaver coverDream Weaver, Nickolas Benedetti rescues tragedy-torn Emari Sweet from the night terrors that haunt her. And draws the living breathing nightmares to her doorstep.

[CJ: Oh no! Tell us more.]

Seventeen year old Emari Sweet has lost her parents in a horrific car crash. Night terrors stalk her sleep and she teeters on the precipice of life, and death by her own hand. Her flesh screams for the razor’s edge, if only to exorcise her inner pain.

Nickolas Benedetti is Onar Caphar (Dream Weaver). He is able to cull and control the memories and dreams of others with a simple touch. Emari’s nightmares evanesce under his fingertips and with one whispered word, ‘forget’, he fades from her dreams with the cool grey mist of morning.
But a darker, more violent terror stalks her and ravages her precarious life. Nick strives to  save her but draws his own nemesis to her secluded cottage. Picketed by a promise, Nick will offer his own life in order to save hers.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing or working I like to read. We go camping during the summer up at my parent’s cabin. There’s always something new to see up there. Baby raccoons, hunting osprey [a bird of prey], beavers, bear, a swarm of butterflies or a nesting duck or robin.  I love to take pictures of the wildlife we encounter. Some of my favorite pics are posted on my Pinterest page.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

LOL. I love this question. I keep telling people I’m a puker…as opposed to a pantser or planner. Random scenes come to me at random times inspired by random events. Then I have to write them down on whatever piece of paper I have available. I’ve been known to use register tape (I work retail.) Once I have my scenes, I tie them all together. And then, I edit, re-edit and edit again. I can’t afford a real editor, so I’ve worked hard at learning as much as I can about writing in general and novel writing specifically. There’s a lot of great books out there. I even used a college writing text book. Two books I suggest are: Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon; and Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino.

[CJ: A puker, hey? Nice!]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

I LOVE vivid, original imagery. I love it when writing is beautiful and poetic and heart-wrenching. The authors that I believe do this for me are Lisa McMannMaggie StiefvaterAnnette Curtis Klaus and Richelle Mead.   

[CJ: My to-read list just got even longer…]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Without a doubt, I’d have to say promotion and marketing. It takes a great deal of time to get the word out on your book if you’re self-published. There’s no one to set up interviews or reviews or create ads. It’s all me. The biggest piece of advice I’ve gotten lately is ‘do what you can without sacrificing your creativity. Don’t forget that writing is what you love most and you can’t lose focus on that. :)’ (Thanks A.L.!).

[CJ: That’s excellent advice. And I totally hear you about promotion and marketing – it’s incredibly time intensive.]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

Wow! This is a bit like being on the couch in the psychiatrist’s office. Delving deep into my psyche. Are you sure you really want to know this?

Yep, there’s no getting out of it now! Here we go…

Which fictional character are you most like and why?

Definitely Emari Sweet. She’s a bit quirky, a bit dark. Emari is kind of a compilation of myself, my daughter and every goth/emo girl I’ve met or read about. We call people who know who they are and aren’t shy about sharing it ‘characters.’ There aren’t enough ‘characters’ in the world these days. Everyone wants to fit in and becomes a cookie cutter of everyone else. I don’t mind being called ‘weird.’ Good, that means I’m not like you. And my daughter, Sarah inspires me too. She is not like every other teen girl. She’s Sarah. A bit of a geek with a quirky sense of humor and a side of dark. I’m so proud of her just for being herself. 

[CJ: ‘Weird’ works better for me than ‘normal’ too. Normal = boring!]

Finish this sentence from your character Emari’s perspective.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but… I’m a big wuss. If it weren’t for Nick, I’d be a hotter mess than I already am.

Now finish the same sentence from your own perspective.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but... despite not minding people thinking I’m weird, what other people think of me matters more than it should..

[CJ: Someone wise once told me that ‘what other people think of me is none of my business’. Easier said than done though!]

Cally, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog.

[CJ: You’re very welcome. It was great having you, Su.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like the sound of Dream Weaver? Grab your copy now from Amazon (paperback and Kindle) (only 99c for a limited time!), Barnes & Noble (Nook)  or CreateSpace.

If you’d like to hear more from Su, check out her website, her blog or like her on Facebook

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

7 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writers, Writing

India Drummond in the HOT SEAT

It’s a bit awkward watching a grown woman cry. India Drummond tries to pull herself together, but she’s just too frightened. Oh well, no sympathy from me. She got herself into this situation. Welcome to the HOT SEAT!

India Drummond

Gday, India!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly urban fantasy, but my books also stray into “epic fantasy” territory as well. They have a splash of murder and romance to boot! 

Tell us about your recently published book, ENEMY OF THE FAE (Caledonia Fae, Book 3), in 25 words or less.

With a young, inexperienced monarch on the Caledonian throne and traitorous plots implicating those nearest Queen Eilidh, unrest is rife in the kingdom.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Writing is my full-time job. I also do freelance cover design from time to time, but all the many tasks associated with publishing books take up nearly all my time, so I accept a few jobs here and there, but don’t actively seek out new clients. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family and enjoying living in Scotland, the most beautiful place on earth.

[CJ: Sounds awesome! Living the dream… ;)] 

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I begin with a one paragraph statement about the main conflict in the book, then I expand that to 2-3 paragraphs about each third of the book. In the first third, I set up the characters and conflict, but by the end of that third, the main character needs to be in trouble. In the second third, the trouble gets doubled, until by the end of that section, I’m not sure how to get them out of it. Then the last third is for resolution. After I get this finished, I write a detailed outline that is usually about 4000-5000 words where I divide that general outline into chapters, and detail what needs to happen in each one. Then I start writing!

After I finish a draft, I muck around and polish until I’m happy with it, then I send to beta readers. After another round of self-editing, I send it to my professional editor. I take her suggestions and edit and polish again, then I listen to the book using Kindle’s text-to-speech feature to help me catch any lingering errors.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s the only way I’ve found to produce as polished a product as I can.

[CJ: Sounds very thorough. I found your post about how to choose a freelance editor extremely helpful. :)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

I’m constantly inspired by things I see every day. I love watching strangers and thinking about their lives, their secrets and dreams.

[CJ: Yep, I’m a people watcher too.]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Without a doubt it’s getting through the initial period of learning, struggling, rejection, starting over. So often, writers face a long battle of trial by fire, working to catch a break in a difficult industry. It took me a long time to find success, and it’s so hard to continue to plug away in a situation where I just wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen for me.

[CJ: Congratulations for breaking through! :)]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

Have you ever considered giving up writing? Why? What made you continue?

I started writing fiction in university, and it took me a long time to find my voice and the style and genre that I enjoyed the most. But I worked hard all along the way to get published. At one point, I had an epic fantasy novel that an agent was looking over. She asked for more pages, then more, then finally the entire manuscript, but each step took months, and I was constantly getting emails from her saying “Oh sorry, I haven’t gotten around to it, but I love the book and I need a few more weeks.” Finally after nearly a year of giving her an exclusive look, she wrote and said the book wasn’t for her, but she recommended this book doctor who was a personal friend, and he only wanted about a thousand pounds for reading the book and giving me a one-page report. I was devastated and felt like my trust had been broken. I quit writing for a couple of years, having decided that the entire industry was crooked.

[CJ: That would have been a very disheartening experience.]

In the end, though, I came back to it and wrote a different book altogether, and this one was picked up by a small publishing house. A lot had changed since I first started submitting though. I decided self-publishing was a smarter way to go for me, so when I started my next series (Caledonia Fae), I intended from the beginning to self-publish it. It was with this series that I finally found the success I’d been dreaming about for so many years.

[CJ: Hooray! :-)]

Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective: I’m embarrassed to admit this, but…

… I loved him from the beginning, but I couldn’t tell him because he was human.

[CJ: Ooooh eeee!]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective: I’m embarrassed to admit this, but… 

I don’t usually admit to things that embarrass me! [CJ: yeah, but this is what the HOT SEAT is all about! :D] But… most people think I’m very confident, and in some ways I am, but I have a horrible fear of new situations, especially ones in which I don’t know anyone else who will be there. I don’t mind public speaking or talking to strangers… it’s more about going into a situation where I don’t know what is going to happen or what will be expected of me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More about Enemy of the Fae (Caledonia Fae, Book 3):

With a young, inexperienced monarch on the Caledonian throne and traitorous plots implicating those nearest Queen Eilidh, unrest is rife in the kingdom. She must sift through the intrigues and lies to survive, all while trying to discover which of her trusted companions hates her enough to commit mass murder.

Pressures threaten to overcome the young ruler, and to protect Quinton Munro, her bonded druid, she must send him away. His journey becomes a mission when he stumbles on an ancient truth that will shake the foundations of the entire faerie realm. Confronted by infinite danger and the promise of limitless power, Munro faces the most difficult choices of his life. Will he hide the truth to preserve stability in the faerie kingdoms or embrace the promise of his true druid heritage?

One friend will die because of that truth, one friend’s betrayal will cause irreparable scars, and the once tightly-knit band of druids will learn that not all magic is benevolent.

If that’s whet your appetite, you can buy Enemy of the Fae from Amazon. Or, start at the beginning of the series with Blood Faerie.

If you’d like to hear more from India, check out her website, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Are you tough enough for the HOT SEAT? Let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

10 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writers, Writing

Michael Offutt in the HOT SEAT

Michael Offutt has been putting this off for ages now. He was able to hold me off for a while, saying he had no books to talk about, but now that he’s officially a published author, his excuses have run out. He must face his fate. And that fate is… the HOT SEAT!

Yes, that’s right folks. You thought you were safe, but it’s back! Prepare for further buttocks burnings! 😀

Michael Offutt

Gday, Michael!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write?

I write science-fiction/dark fantasy in third-person omniscient. My science-fiction takes place on Earth instead of in outer space. Plus I like young characters, so my story features a boy protagonist that is 17-years-old. 

[CJ: That’s my kind of sci-fi. I much prefer stories that are earth-based, don’t ask me why!]

Tell us about your recently published book, Slipstream, in 25 words or less!

Jordan Pendragon is a brainy jock who falls in love with a guy and discovers he’s an archangel created to fix a broken computer.

[CJ: Wow, that sounds like a lot to deal with! I’m assuming that computer is kind of important?]

Short answer: Yes. Long Answer: The computer was designed to prevent humanity from going extinct, and it’s really powerful. In my story, it went insane and Jordan is supposed to restore its programming.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I work full-time programming environmental control units for quadriplegics and setting up computer systems for disadvantaged people who are looking to find a job or to further their education in order to get a job.

[CJ: Sounds like rewarding work!] 

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I get an idea for a novel, plot it out, and then write it.

[CJ: You make it sound so straightforward! :)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Writing something and then having one person say they liked it is the biggest inspiration. It makes me want to write something else for them..

[CJ: I know that feeling. It’s amazing – and definitely inspirational. :D]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Finding people supportive of my writing.

[CJ: Hooray for the blogosphere, hey? :)]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

Have you ever considered giving up writing? Why? What made you continue?

Yeah. I continued because I asked myself, “what else am I going to do?” 

[CJ: Fair enough!]

Finish this sentence from your character Jordan’s perspective: Something most people don’t know about me is…

I’m really scared of failing.  

[CJ: Aww, poor Jordan! I feel ya, buddy…]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective: Something most people don’t know about me is… 

I don’t have many actual friends.

[CJ: Quality over quantity, right? :)]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More about Slipstream:

Jordan Pendragon is crazy good at fixing situations that have gone bad. It’s a talent prized by his high school ice hockey team. However, when a car accident puts Jordan in the hospital, he wakes up with more than just an amazing slapshot in his toolbox. Jordan can manipulate space-time and in just a few weeks, he’ll depend on it to save his life.

If you’re interested in buying Slipstream, visit Michael’s books page.

If you’d like to hear more from Michael, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

Think you’re tough enough for the HOT SEAT? Let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

16 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writers, Writing

Nancy Adams in the HOT SEAT

Nancy Adams loves fairy tales, mysteries and fantasy, but as she approaches the HOT SEAT she soon realises there’s nothing fantastic about it. Nay, it’s an absolute mystery why she volunteered to sit in the flaming seat!
(Yes, I’m being very lame tonight! :-D)

pompei girl

Gday Nancy's online persona!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Nancy?

I mostly write mystery, though lately I’ve begun experimenting with fantasy elements as well. My first serious efforts were historical mysteries and my current WIP is an urban fantasy/suspense set in Paris.  “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” is primarily a little fantasy/fairy tale, but there is also a little hint of a murder mystery twist at the end.

[CJ: Ooh, I like the sound of the urban fantasy set in Paris!]

Tell us about your latest short story, Saint Nick and the Fir Tree,  in 25 words or less.

Saint Nick and his new Tree friend go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

Saint Nick is a short story for the holidays that I’ve just published. It’s available in both ebook and paperback formats. The paperback includes a couple of cute color illustrations by two very talented artist friends.

[CJ: Sounds like fun. Tell us more.]

It’s the day after Christmas, and Saint Nick’s on vacation. His first stop is the little town of Greenwood, where he sees what looks like a fir tree. The fir tree is really a yew that’s pruned in the shape of a Christmas tree, and it’s based on a real yew bush in our own backyard. In the story, the Christmas-tree shaped yew prefers to think of itself as a fir tree. Yews mean sadness, death, and funeral wreaths; fir trees mean Christmas. No contest!

Saint Nick invites the Tree on a little adventure that takes them from the local movie house (showing Miracle on 34th Street—what else?) to a diner, a tavern, and finally a long walk where they get lost in the snow-covered woods and Saint Nick literally stumbles on a big surprise.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I work full time, and when I’m not writing I love to read to relax. I do some occasional gardening, but not as much as I would like.

[CJ: My husband is the gardener in our family. I like to sit back and admire his handiwork. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I began writing seriously about twelve years ago, and attended a mystery convention where I had an interview with an agent. I was very excited by her interest in the story and sent her the full manuscript, only to be told some months later that it very much needed an editor. That was the start of a long apprenticeship that got a great boost when I joined Sisters in Crime, an organization for mystery writers, and became part of their “Guppy” (i.e., “Great UnPublished”) chapter. Guppy friends, critique partners, and information was enormously helpful for my formation as a writer.

[CJ: I love the sound of Guppy. Sounds like an awesome group.]

They are!

The process has changed some over the years, but I always start a new manuscript as what’s called a “pantser,” as in “by-the-seat-of-your-pants.” In practice that means that I start with a scene or idea, but have no idea where it’s going to go. I discover the story’s path by sitting down to write the beginning. Typically that takes me only so far and then I have to stop and do some more organized kinds of brainstorming. 

[CJ: My last four HOT SEAT victims interviewees have all been pantsers. Who knew there were so many out there! :)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Oddly enough none of my major inspirations are mystery writers, though that is the genre I read the most. The Canadian author Robertson Davies is probably my biggest inspiration. His works aren’t fantasy in the strict sense of the word, but nonetheless they are magical. The novels are quick, compelling reads, but they also harbor depths. He was interested in Jungian psychology and also in religion, but there is nothing “heavy” about his stories. They are light as air, yet full of substance. Comedies in the sense that Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a comedy. If you don’t know him, start with either “The Rebel Angels” or “Fifth Business,” both wonderful, absolutely magical works. I bet you’ll become a fan!

[CJ: I haven’t read any of Robertson Davies, so thanks for the recommendations!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Working full-time, without a doubt. It’s hard for me to switch in and out of writing mode. I try to write new scenes on weekends—I’m only fresh and able to do this first thing in the morning, as a rule—and then revise during the weekend. It’s frustrating to lose that momentum every Monday.

[CJ: Trying to write around full time work is definitely tough. Does your work involve writing at all or does it use a completely different skill set?]

I’m a catalog librarian, which means I’m responsible for the book records library patrons see in the catalog. It’s helped me develop a sharp eye for proofreading.

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you could no longer write, would you channel your creativity into a different artform? If so, what?  

<shudders> A truly horrible prospect! I love to sing. Of course that’s not the same as creating something, but I definitely couldn’t compose music. And singing gives you a wonderful feeling of vitality. But please, let’s not dwell on such a ghastly thought!

Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective: Something most people don’t know about me is…

By “most people,” I assume you’re referring to humans? Some of my best friends are human, but most of them don’t realize how much trees and other plants think and feel. Take me, for instance. I can quote all kinds of stories and poetry. I’m thankful that Aunt Nancy and my previous caretaker, Jack, always appreciated me and took the time to read me stories and poems they know I’ll like.

[CJ: Awww. How lovely!]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective. I used to be a radio DJ. Back in college I majored in music and at the time our little campus radio station was the only place on the dial where you could listen to classical music and jazz. It was fun deciding which LPs I would take for a spin on any given day.

[CJ: Oh the power. That’s so much cooler than the jobs I had when I was at uni! :)]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hooray! Very fitting to have a Christmas-focused HOT SEAT as my last one for the year! If you’d like to hear more from Nancy, check out her website or follow her on Twitter

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT in 2012, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

8 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing

Rae Hachton in the HOT SEAT

Rae Hachton is trembling uncontrollably. She often has trouble sleeping, but it’s been much worse these past few days. Why? Because she’s terrified. And who wouldn’t be, if it was their turn to sit on… the HOT SEAT.

Gday, Rae!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Rae?

I write for a slightly more mature YA audience, as, like many other YA novels, my books deal with edgier content such as drugs, sex, abuse, death, and suicide. However, the writing may be a little more raw than what one is typically used to. My characters are usually aged 17-22. 

I adore contemporary stories about troubled, but strong minded MCs and I absolutely love Gothic/Horror Fiction, and almost always a well narrated Love Story, and these are the kind of books I aim to write.

[CJ: Ooh sounds intense. But cool. Very cool.]

Tell us about your latest book, Black Satin: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

Black Satin; second book in the Pretty in Black Series: Ellie’s world is about to turn darker. 

[CJ: Okay, you’ve got me. Tell me more.]

I am really excited about writing this one because while it is dark and creepy, it is beginning to shape into an almost magical realm and extraordinary events I never even created in my own mind from the beginning of this, are developing and demanding my attention. I’m getting very little to no sleep during this process, but I’m not going to complain in the slightest, I believe the book is worth it, and I usually sleep little anyway. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a nap, or driving in the car, and an idea for a new scene will strike, and I’ll have to record notes on my phone, because each scene is better and better. I know, at this point, I’m going to have a crazy time trying to collect all my notes into one collection, so I can make sense of where this is headed.

Pretty in Black, when I began writing it, wasn’t going to be a series. I did not find out about that little tid-bit until I wrote “The End” and realized that this was definitely not the end. Right now, I still cannot speculate whether this series will be three books or four. I’m excited to find out myself. I believe Marcus and Ellie know, but won’t tell me. How courteous of them to realize I’m already challenging myself to keep up, as it is quite difficult with those two.

Something I can say about Black Satin is that a new character arrives, and complicates Ellie’s life even further. Those following me on one of my sites, may find out more about this new character and how he is pertinent to Ellie’s story and development.

[CJ: How fascinating that you didn’t know Pretty in Black was going to be a series. It’s always interesting to hear about how books come into being!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Usually, when I am not writing, I am reading and/or exploring my surroundings. A season in which I dare not write, is summer. I do not believe I can draw from memory any time in which I wrote anything during summer season. Summer for me, is a time of relaxation, and adventure. I love the beach. So, for 3 and a half months of the year, I do not write, and the rest of the time I do.

[CJ: Sounds like a great way to split up your year between your different past times- writing and relaxation. 🙂 ]

I also enjoy photography, graphic design and cinematography projects. Sometimes, I make short films. When I began college, my major at art school was filmmaking/cinematography. I wanted to be a director and this is still, very much, something I want to pursue later on in life.

[CJ: Film fascinates me too. If only we had time to pursue all of our interests!]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I do not outline, I am a pantster. I just jump right in, once I’m inspired, but if the characters begin talking to me, I jot down notes or record snippets of conversation from them.

My titles almost always arrive before the story does.

[CJ: So far, your process is the opposite of mine!]

A simple lyric from a song has been known to inspire an entire book, or in the case of Pretty in Black, an entire series.

When I edit, I have to add words, not remove them.

I count syllables in every sentence when I do a read-through of my work, to make sure there are no stumbling blocks, and that ideas flow together nicely.

Contemporary stories are written in order, Gothic/Horror stories are written out of order.

Shortest book completion time:  4 days

Longest book completion time: 2 and a half months.

[CJ: For real? It’s taken me longer than 2 and a half months to read some books, let alone write them!]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

The Danish Duo band, The Raveonettes. I can more than likely trace every work I’ve written, back to one of their songs. I will do almost anything to get my hands on a new song of theirs, or a song I have not heard before. They’re releasing a B-side and Rarities album December 15, I believe, but they’re only making 1000 copies: 500 in CD and 500 in Vinyl. I will be ecstatic trying to get my hands on a copy.

[CJ: I’ve never heard of them. What song/s would be a good introduction to the band?]

Any of the songs that debut on the Pretty in Black book soundtrack:
  • “My Time’s Up” from the album Raven in the Grave. This song is the song that inspired the entire series! Raveonettes are Ellie’s favorite band too, and this song plays for the first time at her school dance and she dances with Marcus Marble. This ends up being their song, kind of like how “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” is Edward’s and Bella’s Song. It reoccurs throughout. 
  • “Forget that You’re Young” also from album Raven in the Grave. Ellie and Marcus dance to this song at Ellie’s Halloween Dance. 
  • “Everyday” which is a badass cover song of Buddy Holly’s song, and The Raveonettes version sounds creepy, which adds to the mood of this book.
  • And another one of their songs which will be found on the Black Satin [Pretty in Black #2] Soundtrack is actually a beautiful Christmas song called Christmas Ghosts
[CJ: Cool. I’ll check them out!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Word Count: I’m probably too concise. Never enough words. It’s a challenge for me to land a MS between 35-40 k!

[CJ: It’s official – our styles and challenges are the exact opposite. My current MS is 140K, edited down from 171K!)

Censorship: My stories are left raw, I do not censor my characters. They are how they are. If they misuse drugs, they misuse drugs. If they swear a lot, or have a sexual addiction, I transcribe it onto the page in the direct way they tell me to, I leave nothing out, I want it to ring with authenticity, and I try to stay true to the character and the story. Doing this is not a challenge. What proposes a challenge is when someone reads something, and goes, isn’t that a bit graphic, don’t you think you can tone that down a bit? And I’m like, No I cannot. I’m not at liberty. I did not create this story, these characters are telling me about their actual lives!

In fact, and I’m positive many of you have not heard of this before, and would probably stress a degree of strong opinion about this option, but I’m having to put a Parental Advisory label, much like the one you might find on a musical CD from a rock band, on the back of one of my more recent projects, due to the content. A lot of people believe that parents are not involved in their childrens reading choices and if this idea were implemented, it would be useless, however, I live in an age of the sue-happy, so even if a parent allowed a child to purchase my book, and later realized the content was not exactly suitable for their fourteen year old child, I can only imagine what might happen.

My books are categorized as YA and many people view that as ages 14-18. I believe there should be a slight separation from Teen Literature and YA literature. Teen books are a little more naive and juvenile, while Young Adult books span from ages 17-22 and deal with events that take place during that last year of high school or while in college. I was a teen once, and I am still surrounded by many teens everyday. Not every young person can deal with mature subjects, and some can. It varies. Some teens are trying to be older than they are, and some young people ages 21 have not yet grown to a certain level of experience. There needs to be books for both. But if my story is about drugs, it will be about drugs, and not a high school musical about drugs.

[CJ: I agree that teens have different maturity levels and some are better at handling topics than others. I don’t see why books shouldn’t be rated in the same way as movies and cds – if I was buying a present for a young cousin, I would want to know the ‘teen’ book was matched with their maturity level.]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you had to give up either reading or writing for the rest of your life, which would you choose?  

Reading. But really I would hate to have to give up either, but I guess reading, because if I’m still writing, then I’m still reading, so that would be the best choice. I could just write my own books and read them too!  

[CJ: Smart move!]

Finish this sentence from your character Walter’s perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  Ellie loved me, and not Marcus.

Oh no, slight Spoiler Alert! That sentence is relevant to the Black Satin plot line as new developments emerge. Another guy tries to vie for the attention and love of Ellie Piper.

[CJ: Nothing like a good love triangle to keep you burning through those pages! :)]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  fictional boys were REAL.

Girls, don’t we all wish that the world was all full of  Edward Cullens, and Varen Nethers and Patch Ciprianos we could choose from?! Life would be spectacular if these boys could just jump right off that page! This is the reason girls read more! Duh!!

[CJ: The only problem I see with the world being full of Edward Cullens? That would mean vampires are real! EEK! Don’t know if I could cope with that!]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks so much for taking a seat, Rae!

If you’d like to hear more from Rae, check out her blog, follow her on Twitter or visit the Pretty in Black website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

8 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing

Michele Drier in the HOT SEAT

It’s Michele Drier’s birthday today. I got her a wonderful present. It involves flames, intimidation and possible third degree burns. Yes, that’s right. I got her a spot in the HOT SEAT! 😀

Michele Drier

Gday, Michele!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Michele?

Well, that would have been easy a year ago…mysteries!  But  I began writing a vampire romance, just to see if I could do it, and I did!  So now I write traditional mysteries AND paranormal romance.

[CJ: Nice combination. I love both those genres.]

Snap CoverTell us about your latest book, SNAP: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

SNAP is the holy grail for Maxie. She’s looking for fame, fortune and Jimmy Choos, but when she meets vampire Jean Louis, she’s a goner.

[CJ: 25 words exactly. Nice work! And the plot sounds like fun too.]

Thanks. SNAP: The World Unfolds was completed and published in July.  I’ve begun the next in the Kandesky vampire series, SNAP: New Talent.

[CJ: Awesome!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Marketing!  I always thought that the hard part of writing a book was writing a book! Not! Now that I have two books published in two different genres (my traditional mystery, Edited for Death, came out Oct. 1), I spend hours every day with social media.  I also write grant applications on a contract basis, do some consulting work and spend time taking care of two granddaughters.

[CJ: Sounds like a busy, satisfying life. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I’m more of a pantser writer.  I have stories in my head and I sit down and start with Chapter One.   Every day, I read the previous five or ten pages to immerse myself in the story and then continue.  My characters will sometimes take the story line and bolt off into the blue. This usually adds interest and fleshes them out, but I sometimes have to rein them in.  It makes for occasional rewriting. 

[CJ: Rewriting can be painful but usually the story becomes much better for it. Thank goodness! Wouldn’t be much point to it if it didn’t, right?]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Primarily, women writers.  I’ve always been amazed that women overrode the barriers they faced and just wrote, because they had to.  Not only the 18th and 19th century women like Jane Austen or the Brontes, but early 20th century like Kate Chopin or Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  And I’m astounded at the English like Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch.  Their use of language makes me realize that we speak different languages…well VERY different dialects.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Hoo, sales?  Kidding!  The biggest challenge I’ve faced in fiction writing is trying to cram way too much information in.  My first couple of drafts of Edited for Death were liberally sprinkled with information dumps and my daughter finally said, “Just write one story.  You’ve got two of them here.”  When I realized she was right, I slashed and burned and a  better book and story emerged from the forest of words I’d created.

[CJ: I love the image you’ve created there. Makes me think I’d probably love your novels too!]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

A well-reputed publisher offers you a major contract but requires you change something about your plot that completely goes against what you want for the book. What do you do?  

Oh…moan and groan. [CJ: :D] I’d want to make sure I understood why they wanted to make these changes, probably try to negotiate to keep my ideas intact and then, when all else fails, go away.  It’s much more cavalier and easier to say this in these days of self-publishing!

[CJ: Brave lady!]

What fictional character are you most like and why?

Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown

Some people used to call me Murphy Brown!  I guess I’m more outspoken than I think I am.  But in literary fiction, hummmmm.  Probably Lisa Scottoline’s Bennie Rosato.  A little brash, in control (read: control freak), outwardly sure of myself.  I sure wish I could afford Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.  My daughter and I left our finger- and nose-prints on the window of a Ferregamo store in Paris once, but that’s probably as close as I’ll ever come!

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what genre would you choose?

That’s like being put in solitary! All in all, I think I’d have to say mysteries.

[CJ: Makes sense! And yes I agree. It’s a tricky question. Glad I’m the one asking and not answering! :-D]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, that was fun. For me at least! If you’d like to hear more from Michele, check out her website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

19 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing