Author Interview: Sarah Ashwood

Hello Friends. It is that time again. Time for another Author Interview. You can read my review of this book over at The Reading BudSarah was a lovely author to interview and the first book in her Land Beyond the Sunset series was a fantastic read. I can’t wait to read the next two books.

But enough chit chat. Here is the interview. 🙂

Sarah Ashwood Author Bio


  1. What is the inspiration behind Aerisia?

Basically two things: a love of speculative fiction—be it fairytales, fantasy, paranormal, mythology, or folktale—and a sunset walk down a country road. If you’ve read (or eventually read) Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset, you’ll find both influences in the novel. The scene in the opening chapter where Hannah meets Risean Wy’ Curlm, who whisks her away from her Colorado home to Laytrii’s palace in the land of Aerisia, was inspired by an incident in real life.

I used to walk/run country roads at evening when it was cooler, I had a neighbor who raised horses and had a huge, old stump in his pasture, and my overactive imagination sometimes tricked me into thinking that stump was something it wasn’t. Once, it was a bear, once a dog, once a stranger in flowing robes…which got me to thinking. What would happen if I actually ran across a stranger from another time period or world? Put all these factors together, and Aerisia was born.

  1. Are any of your characters modeled after any celebrities?

Unless you’re a reader of westerns, Zane Grey in particular, you probably won’t recognize the name Lewis Wetzel, but he was an actual, historical figure in the American Revolutionary War, and a central figure in Zane Grey’s Ohio River trilogy. He’s also who the Simathe were loosely patterned after. The Hunter, a character introduced in Book 3, Aerisia: Field of Battle, is probably somewhat influenced by Legolas from Lord of the Rings. But other than that, no, not really.

  1. Was there any kind of special research put into writing this novel?

Would it be terrible to say very little actual “research” went into it? Basically, I simply incorporated elements of everything I’ve always liked into my story. There are fairies, giants, and unicorns from fairytales. The Ranetron, Aerisia’s main military force, is heavily based off the military of ancient Rome, and the Galandorf on pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy. I like to think these diverse elements help make the world of Aerisia somewhat unique.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

When I began working on my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy and my passion to keep writing, to tell this story, to finish this series, never gave out. By the time I’d finished, over a year after starting, I knew being a writer was one of my goals in life.

  1. What was the process like in finding the right publishing format for you?

Sadly, it was a long process of being rejected by publisher after publisher until one finally said yes. That was the happy part.

  1. How do you set aside time to write? And do you have a daily word or page goal?

Since having my third child back in March, my daily word count is only 500 words. This doesn’t sound like much, but it can be harder than you’d think to write even that much daily with three kids as young as mine in the house. And those 500 words do add up pretty quickly.

  1. What did you find to be the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part about writing is finding time to write when my kids aren’t in my hair! Usually this is during their naptime or after they’ve gone to bed. My three boys definitely keep me hopping.

  1. How long have you worked on the Sunset Lands Beyond series?

The rough draft took well over a year to write, and then there were at least three complete revisions afterward. So I spent two or three years working on it.

  1. Where did you get the ideas for the names and places in this book? Some of the names are so unique.

The vast majority of them came straight out of my head. My sisters did suggest some, such as Aerisia, Cortain, Lonolith, and lorlin. They were my first readers, and I bounced lots of ideas off them.

  1. Do you know how many books you plan on including in this series?

I have an idea for a follow up trilogy, featuring three more of the Simathe, but I’m in the midst of a couple of other projects I’d have to complete first.

  1. What are your plans after you finish this series?

Right now, I’m working on a novel about a former gladiator set in ancient Rome. When I finish it, I may come back to the world of Aerisia.

  1. Do you want to make a career of writing? Or have you already made a career out of it?

Besides being a stay at home mom and a homeschooling teacher, writing is my career. J

  1. Did you have a professional editor polish up your novel? If so, how did you go about finding them?

My publisher handled all of that. All I had to do was wade through the suggested edits.

  1. What kind of books do you read?

I’m a fairly eclectic reader. I enjoy history, theology, fantasy, fairytales, historical fiction, young adult fiction, and even a smattering of science fiction. I don’t stick with any particular genre, and I’m usually reading several books at once. Takes me a while to get through them, but that’s also because I don’t have as much time to read as I used to. I used to read a minimum of two books a week. This was before marriage and kids. Now it’s more like one-two books a month, if I’m lucky.

  1. Do you have a favorite book or series? Favorite author?

One of my favorite series is the Legends of Dimmingwood, by C. Greenwood. Another is the Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa. Then there’s the Fires of Gleannmara series by Linda Windsor, and The Buccaneers by Linda Lee Chaikin. These are a mix of fantasy, young adult, and historical fiction, and all of these authors are some of my favorites. Like I said, I’m all over the place with my reading.

  1. In the big debate of e-book or traditional hard copy, which do you prefer?

They both have their pros and cons. My bookcases filled with all my beautiful books is one of my favorite spots in my entire house. I love the feel of an actual book in my hands, and I think reading from paper and ink is easier on the eyes and more engrossing to the brain. On the other hand, I love the portability of my Kindle and my Kindle app: basically I can take an entire library with me in my purse! I’m happy to have both.

  1. What is your favorite movie?

Ben Hur, the 1959 version, and then the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was watching Ben Hur from the time I was a very young kid, and I’m pretty sure my lasting fasciation for ancient Rome was probably partly inspired by this movie.

  1. Are there any movies or books that have inspired a story?

Well, I just mentioned ancient Rome… My current WIP builds on all the Roman era movies I’ve ever seen: Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Gladiator, Spartacus, Empire, etc. Certainly, I’ve read dozens of books, both historical and fictional, set in that era. After all that, writing my own came naturally.

  1. What kind of hobbies are you into other than writing? What do you do when you take a break from writing?

As I said before, I’m a mom to three young boys, all under the age of 5. (The oldest is soon to be 5.) I do preschool with my two older boys, and am planning to homeschool them all. I’m also heavily into running and fitness: I try to run and/or workout 5-6 days a week. The day I ran my first half-marathon, two years ago, was one of the proudest days of my life.

  1. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

Definitely Shakespeare. The man was a genius! I would love to pick his brain. When I studied him and his writing in college, I was simply fascinated and a little overwhelmed by how many of our common, everyday expressions and figures of speech are drawn from his writing. To be a writer and leave a legacy like that—what more could you want?

  1. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers?

Fearlessly self-edit and rewrite! When you reread your rough draft, you’ll find a great deal of room for improvement. Don’t be afraid to keep trimming and snipping, rewriting and improving.

  1. Anything else that you would like to add that I didn’t ask you about?

Just that, although my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy does not fall into the young adult category, it is suitable for readers about 13 and up. I have a mission in my writing to provide entertaining, family friendly books free of gratuitous sex, language, and violence that a large audience can enjoy.

  1. Where can we find you on social media?

You can find me on my Sarah Ashwood Facebook author page, friend me on my Sarah Ashwood Goodreads page, follow me on Twitter @1sarahashwood, or on Instagram where I go by @runnerwritermom. If you want to see lots of pins related to fairytales, fantasy, magic, castles, reading, and writing (and occasionally fitness and running), you can follow me on my Pinterest page, as well.


Thank you Sarah for being so kind and allowing me to pick your brain. I look forward to seeing more from you!

And before you go, here is a little excerpt from  Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset.


*   *   *

The day was darkening, but it wasn’t the peaceful shadows of twilight overtaking the sky. The day was tranquil, but it wasn’t the calm stillness of a summer day drawing to a contented close. A cool breeze whipped up, teasing strands of hair out of the braid I’d replaited this morning. The force of it blew and tangled my horse’s mane. Pulling my cloak tightly about my shoulders, I studied the forbidding sky. Dark clouds scudding across its face were gathering into an ominous, foreboding mass.

“It’s going to storm,” I announced.

A needless comment in light of the obvious signs, but I felt like I had to draw my companions’ attention to the fact. They were plodding along, every now and then casting a glance upward, but otherwise appeared unconcerned.

A raindrop hit the tip of my nose, sliding over my lips. I wiped it away. “Shouldn’t we be looking for shelter?”

I hated storms. As a child, I would quiver under the blankets while they raged outside my bedroom window. When the thunder was so loud it shook the house, I would run to my parents’ room, where I’d be held tight and comforted until the furor had passed.

As an adult, naturally I no longer ran to my parents, but I still disliked storms. Holding my breath and counting the seconds between lightning flashes and peals of thunder, I could never fall asleep until the fury had abated. This oncoming storm was triggering an assault of memories, and I couldn’t tear my gaze from the threatening sky.

Another raindrop hit my gloved hand. Its twin splashed the tip of my ear. My hands were starting to tremble. The wind picked up again, rustling the tall grass on either side of the road. Other than that, there were no noises and, besides our party, no signs of any living creatures. All was eerily silent: the calm before the storm. My horse was tense, its ears pricked. A distant crash of thunder; he shook his head nervously. Lightning flashed among the clouds. Though still several miles away, the storm was obviously moving closer.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. “High-Chief, please, can’t we find shelter? I don’t want to be out in this!”

Not surprisingly, the man was far from alarmed. “It is only a storm. It will pass.”

His unruffled demeanor made my anger boil. Jerking my horse to a stop, I rounded on him furiously. “I know it’s only a storm,” I yelled, rising in the stirrups. “I don’t care! I don’t want to be caught in it! What’s wrong with you?”

Those pit-black eyes narrowed angrily, and I plunked back down. Suddenly, the gaze pinning me was more frightening than the imminent storm. What was I thinking, shouting at him like that? Was I crazy?

“Look about you,” he lashed out, a keen edge to his voice the storm could never hope to match. “Is there anywhere to take shelter?”

The man had a point, even if I hated to admit it. The countryside was all sprawling fields interspersed with grey boulders, large and small. A few scrubby trees dotted the landscape, while mountains loomed large in the distance. There were no houses, no caves, no large trees, no roofs to hide under.

What to do? What to do?

Inside their gloves, my hands were openly shaking.

“The rain will not harm you. We ride.”

That was Lord Ilgard. The man was implacable.

He and his men spurred their horses forward, but I refused to budge. As he passed by, the Simathe leaned from his saddle, catching my horse firmly by the bridle. The animal followed meekly…until I sawed viciously on the reins, making him whip his head to the side and tear loose from the Simathe’s grasp.

Directly overhead, thunder boomed. I panicked and jumped, my silver spurs raking my horse’s flanks. Already spooked, this proved too much for the frightened beast. He bolted down the trail, taking me with him. Gripping the pommel with one hand and the reins in the other, I held on with all my strength. I don’t know how long we ran, or how far, before it happened. Thunder crashed, followed by a brilliant flash of lightning. It struck me…yet it didn’t. One moment I was tearing along at breakneck speed, and the next—a boom, a flash, and I was enfolded in a dazzling veil of white.

Time morphed into a murky soup of air, space, and speed. Beneath me, my horse struggled to run, but it was like moving in slow motion. My body felt frozen, my motions sluggish, and my fingers unresponsive as they tried to relax their grip on the saddle horn and reins.

A fierce rush of wind blasted us, knocking my horse off his feet. I was still clinging to his back and fell with him, winding up with one leg pinned beneath his weight. Terror, obscene and sudden, flooded me like a wave, overwhelming my mind as I lay helpless on the wet grass. I opened my mouth and tried to scream, but no sounds came out.

That brightness was around, within, and about me, holding me powerless in its suffocating grip. I was no longer conscious of the raging storm. Nothing was left except white light and choking panic. Thunder crashed a fourth time, and in its sonorous peals I heard an evil voice. No, I heard the voice of evil. Over and over it called my name, the echoes rolling and crashing like wild waves against a rocky shore.

“Hannah,” it called. “Lady Hannah, the Artan. Hannah. Lady Hannah, the Artan. Mighty deliverer from Earth. Have you come to save these people, this land, from me? From me?”

A face materialized, filling the sky over my head: a gleaming white skull. Formed from the white light enclosing me, vacant eye sockets and a fleshless mouth smiled a hideous smile as it loomed over me, slowly descending.

“From me, Hannah? From me, Lady Artan? From me?”

Nonsensical words. Hideous phrases. I couldn’t figure them out. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. I was reduced to babbling a mindless, “No, no, no!” My head shook senselessly from side to side. My horse didn’t move. Was he dead?

Now the face was upon me, its jaws gaping wide as if to swallow me whole. In the midst of my panic I reacted, throwing my arms into the air in a defensive posture. I touched something tangible; a tremendous weight pressed me down. My arms shook as I fought to keep from being crushed.

“No,” I screamed. “No! Get away from me, leave me alone!”

Nothing at first, then the weight withdrew ever so slightly. Encouraged, I continued shouting commands and denials. There was a pause, one that seemed to last forever. And then, wonder of wonders!—the face began to fade. Another breathless moment of horror and hope, and I was able to pick myself up, rising as far as my pinned leg would allow. With both hands thrust against my opponent, both palms turned skyward, I continued pushing against the terrible weight and screaming for it to leave. New life flooded my veins, and my voice strengthened. To my indescribable relief, as I regained strength, my enemy seemed to lose his.

“Leave!” I shouted once more. “Leave me alone!”

This time, as the words fled my lips, a strange steam of blue light leapt from my fingertips, careened upward, and slammed brutally against the grinning skull. The thing parted its yawning jaws in a hideous, gurgling scream not unlike that of the drocnords. Power, sheer power, replacing any fear, suddenly I was strong and invincible. There was only this moment, this battle, and the magic of the blue brilliance bursting from my outstretched hands.

The monster’s second scream shook the earth. I wanted to double over and press my hands to my ears, but the magic wouldn’t let me go. Another stupendously loud crash of thunder, accompanied by the most brilliant flash of lightning yet. Both the skull and the menacing white light blasted upward, a fountain of radiance spraying the clouds, fading into the next lightning bolt that raced across the sky.

The instant they were gone, my cerulean light fled as well, and all vigor drained from my limbs. A heavy shudder convulsed my body, and I toppled backward into soft mud. Heavy rain drummed on my face, droplets coursing down my cheeks like tears. The last thing I remember thinking was that the storm seemed to be vanishing into the distance.

Consciousness fled.

My eyes closed.

The world went black.


Author Interview: Debra Chapoton


Hello friends! I know this is a little late and I apologize for that. But this Sunday I am brining you an interview from the author Debra Chapoton. I have had a wonderful experience with Debra. She was so helpful and quick to get to the questions I sent her. Also, her book, Exodia, was a fabulous book. You can find my review on Goodreads or Amazon and soon on The Reading Bud.

Without any more delay, here is a little bio about her, followed by the interview. At the end you can read an excerpt from Exodia.

Debra Chapoton has taught kids of all ages in her main career as a teacher. She has a BA in Spanish and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English. She started writing in 2002 and was surprised to find out that the characters quickly take over the action and dialogue in the stories.

Her first YA novel, EDGE OF ESCAPE, was self-published and then discovered by Piper Verlag Publishing and translated into German. Stalking and obsession get a sympathetic twist in this story of physical and psychological survival.

Her second YA novel, SHELTERED, detours into a different genre as she writes about five teens who confront supernatural forces. Two boys and three girls all harbor secrets which make some of them susceptible to demon possession. Embracing all things supernatural might protect them, but are they ready for the consequences?

In A SOUL’S KISS a tragic accident leaves Jessica comatose, but her spirit escapes her body. Navigating a supernatural realm is tough, but being half dead has its advantages.

Chapoton has also written eleven children’s chapter books for middle grade kids, teen Christian fiction THE GUARDIAN’S DIARY, and a non-fiction work for adults, CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES.

A dystopian series, The Exodia Ledgers, was released in June, 2015 with EXODIA and OUT OF EXODIA. Based loosely on the ancient story of Moses, this two book dystopian journey is an adventure full of symbolism, hidden codes, and thematic imagery that will appeal to readers of all ages. These high concept novels bridge the gap from young adult to new adult and mix genres including sci-fi, dystopian, magical realism, and speculative fiction.

Her latest release, THE GIRL IN THE TIME MACHINE, is a time travel novel with an unusual twist. Laken Mitchell has been bullied one time too many, but using a time machine to make her tormenters disappear means putting her own future—and her past—at perilous risk.

When she’s not writing Chapoton enjoys the quiet of the full log home she designed and built with her husband. They live in the middle of 62 acres of beautiful woods in northern Michigan, USA.


  1. What inspired The Exodia Ledgers Series?

This is a really hard question. In fact, I answered all the rest first and came back to this one. Still don’t know how to answer. Pretty much ideas just float out of the sky and pierce my brain, painlessly, and then grow there like weeds until I pluck them, take a look, and decide to write or not. This one bloomed into two books. For me inspiration is a mystery—it just happens.

  1. I really enjoyed all the anagrams spread throughout the novel. What inspired the anagrams? Do those come easily to you or did it require a little prep?

Oh, yay, I know the answer to this one. The anagrams were inspired by the need to have some kind of special mental ability or quirk for the main character. Having the anagrams also be prophetic just kind of happened organically. It amazed me. Did it require a little prep? Well, yes and no. I have been playing with codes since I was maybe eight years old. That’s when I discovered cryptograms, secret alphabets, and anagrams. Nowadays when I’m forced to watch a sporting event I find myself mentally rearranging the letters on players’ uniforms to form new words, so though it comes easily, I had to use pencil and paper sometimes to figure out the longer anagrams.

  1. What kind of research did you have to do for Exodia?

I studied the life of Moses extensively since the plot is based on him. I also researched ancient Egypt and the Holy Land looking for ways it would compare to a post-apocalyptic world in terms of the struggle to survive without modern conveniences.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

About fourteen years ago a teacher friend of mine assigned his high school students to write a novel during the school year. I challenged myself to try to do the same. I had so much fun watching the characters take over my story that after I finished that first novel I wanted to continue creating more.

  1. Are you self-published? If so, what made you go that route as opposed to traditional publishing?

I self-published first, then I was published traditionally. I’ve been indie published as well and continue to self-pub.

  1. If you are self-published, if given the opportunity, would you go the traditional route? Why or why not?

I am open to all avenues. In fact, I’ve just begun to publish on Audible. It’s quite humbling to have a voice over artist or actor bring my stories to life.

  1. How do you set aside time to write? And do you have a daily word or page goal?

I try to write creatively every morning from about 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. or for as long as I’m inspired. My daily goal is a thousand words, which is about four pages. I might return to novel writing throughout the day or work on editing and rewriting or marketing.

  1. What did you find to be the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part comes after I’m all done writing and have to work on marketing and selling. I’d rather do rewrites and editing while standing on my head than market. I do, however, enjoy author interviews on wonderful blogs like yours [honestly speaking].

  1. How long did you work on the Exodia series?

Exodia and Out of Exodia took about two years to complete.

  1. What made you feel that you needed to write this series?

Because I usually write by the seat of my pants meaning I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I wanted to try my hand at writing from a plot outline where I would know what was going to happen next. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Moses murdered someone and then God used him anyway in one of the greatest stories of history. I don’t know why I felt I needed to write this series, but I enjoyed the challenge of reinventing the fourth most well-known character of all time.

  1. Is this series complete?


  1. What are you currently working on?

Since the Exodia series I self-pubbed a sci-fi thriller called The Girl in the Time Machine. Now I’m working on a three book series with an interplanetary theme.

  1. Out of all the novels you have written, what is your favorite so far?

That is like asking me which of my four kids I like best. I can’t answer, but I will say that the Exodia books and my latest book, The Girl in the Time Machine, are the most complex and appeal to the side of my personality that loves puzzles. But … A Soul’s Kiss has that supernatural romance that makes me smile and Edge of Escape, The Guardian’s Diary, and Sheltered satisfy my need for suspense. See what I mean? I can’t pick a favorite, though I’m really into the sci-fi adventure I’m working on now.

  1. How long did it take you write the first book of the series?

About a year.

  1. Did you have a professional editor polish up your novel? If so, how did you go about finding them?

I don’t remember. I’ve written over 20 novels and they’ve all been either group edited, contest edited, self-edited (I have a Master’s Degree in English), or professionally edited.

  1. What kind of books do you read?

I genre jump and have 200 books lined up on my Kindle. I like all sorts of things, but suspense is my favorite.

  1. Do you have a favorite book or series? Favorite author?

I’m always asked this and the answer changes daily. Today, because I just finished a suspenseful novel and need something light, I’ll pick Evanovich’s series with Stephanie Plum. Those are so much fun to read.

  1. In the big debate of e-book or traditional hard copy, which do you prefer?

I have three Kindles, need I say more?

  1. What is your favorite movie?

Back to Future

  1. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

You’d think I’d say Moses, right? But I’d be too scared of him. I’d rather meet Jesus.

  1. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers?

Read a lot. Take writing classes. Read writing books. Edit, edit, and re-edit.

  1. Anything else that you would like to add that I didn’t ask you about?

Nope, you covered a lot. Thanks so much for this interview.

  1. Where can we find you on social media?







Books by Debra Chapoton















I didn’t forget! Here is an Excerpt from Exodia.

Part I: 2093

 Chapter 1 The Red Slum

 From the first page of the Ledger:

The black voice said, “Live in fire, wild, souls howl here.”

There are two paths to every man’s life. Some choose hell …

 IT’S AS IF I too am running for my life.

I sit transfixed by the scene outside the smudged window. A scrubby looking boy races away from a statehouse guardsman barely out of reach of the angry soldier’s whip. I clench my fists, press closer to the window, and let the pounding in my ears cover my idiot tutor’s droning voice:

“… after the Eurasian Nuclear War of 2049 when North America united into 90 states and declared trade independence from the rest of the world …”

The kid reaches the fence and scrambles up the chain links. The frayed end of the guard’s whip catches him on the ankle. Two small oranges spill from his pockets as he lurches to scurry over the top unfazed by the lashing or the broken barbs. He casts a casual, nonchalant glance over his shoulder and disappears out of sight.

My posture relaxes and my pulse returns to normal, but then my eyes fall to the words the tutor has scrawled on the wallboard: Eurasian Nuclear War. The letters jump around in my head and rearrange themselves into I aware casual runner. My heart skips a beat. I’ve been having more of these strange distractions lately. Words change in my head and I miss several minutes of time.

I slump down in my seat and glance at the three other boys forced to sit through this drivel with me. Not one is paying attention. We’ve heard it a thousand times.

“… post-apocalyptic immigration changed the culture of our new nation. Tattoos on the left elbow, red or blue, were given at birth to differentiate the two classes. Intermarriage is punishable by death and so is killing or breaking the bones of someone of the opposite tattoo.”

I fight the urge to cradle my left elbow even though it doesn’t matter since I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt. I can never draw attention to my fading tattoo. As grandson of the most powerful man in the nation, Executive President Bryer Battista, there should be no doubt that I am a Blue.

But I have a doubt. Something isn’t right. No one else’s royal blue tattoo has purpled like mine. For months now I’ve secretly dabbed blue dye on my skin, as much to hide the suspicion from myself as from anyone else, that maybe, just maybe, the tattoo I was given sixteen years ago was red. And maybe I, Dalton Battista, grandson of the cruelest tyrant ever, am not a true member of the elite ruling class. That maybe I belong to society’s religious outcasts–those poor hoarders, low class rejects, slave labor.

It takes a moment before the silence registers on my ears. The tutor is no longer speaking. Four sets of eyes are turned on me, watching, waiting.

“Excuse me? Could you repeat the question?”

“Certainly,” the tutor smirks. “What is the name of the resistance leader who tried to claim all of Exodia for the Reds?”

“Um,” I clear my throat. I love history actually. Half my life I was raised by a Red nanny whose tales of Ronel captivated me. “Ronel, David Ronel, he, um …” I run a hand through my hair, long by current standards, and simply stop talking. My fear of public speaking muzzles me even in this small group.

And now my mind swirls around the fact that this morning I ran out of blue dye.

*   *   *

Thank you so much Debra for allowing me to pick your brain. It was a joy reading your book and I hope to read some of your other works here soon.

Have you read any of Debra’s books? Do you plan on reading any?

Author Interview: C.K. McKenzie

Hello friends! I bring to you…a little late…the author of April, C.K. McKenzie. I just read her book The legendary Haunting of Quentin Wallis. I will share my review of that book as soon as it is posted on the ReadingBud. But, C.K. was awesome and agreed to do an interview this month. So here it is!

  1. What inspired the Quentin Wallis novel?
    I really wanted to write a book set on Halloween, but I didn’t want to go down the traditional horror route which left me free to do whatever I wanted. I played around with quite a few ideas and it became a gathering together of many things that I love. I drew in elements of traditional gothic literature but mixed it up with a little dark comedy, romance and some adventure.
    In terms of what influenced me, it could be everything from ‘Northanger Abbey’ to ‘Sleepy Hollow’, ‘The Princess Bride’ to ‘The Addams Family’, to the illustrations of Edward Gorey, the slapstick dark comedy of classic movies like ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ or even the early horror films of ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula’
  2. Are any of your characters modeled after any celebrities?
    Not really, I rarely find myself inspired by celebrities, but there are a lot of film references in the book. However, since reading the book, one of my friends who’s a big fan of Criminal Minds thinks that Quentin reminds her of Matthew Gray Gubler – although everything reminds her of MGG!
  3. What kind of research did you have to put into your novel?
    I was already obsessed with Halloween so I had that aspect well and truly covered, but I found myself doing a lot of reading about the early history of the USA and New England because while there are a lot of fantasy elements it was important that the story and the place have a solid grounding in reality. Mostly though I did a lot of sketching – it was my way of getting to know the place and the people – so I have piles of these pencil drawings.
  4. When did you decide to become a writer?
    There was never really a time in my life when I wasn’t writing or making up stories but the idea really solidified when I was 17. I was in my final year of school and my English teacher suggested that I should give writing a try. I spent the next year writing my first book, which was so bad that I burned it but I loved the experience so much that I immediately started in on the second one and I haven’t stopped writing since.
  5. What made you decided to self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing?
    Quentin Wallis doesn’t fit neatly into a genre category. I knew it was going to be tough to get an agent or publisher onboard so I decided to go ahead and publish independently. I also wanted to give independent publishing a real go to see what it was all about, work out the pro’s and con’s for myself. I’d also been in a position in the past where I had an agent interested in a manuscript, he took it on and then nothing happened with it – for two years it was on a shelf while our agreement slowly expired. It was one of the most demoralising and frustrating experiences.
  6. How do you set aside time to write? And do you have a daily word or page goal?
    I write every day – it’s a habit I developed early on and I’ve kept to it. There are days when I work more on screenplays than books and vice versa depending on deadlines and sometimes I don’t write very much but no day is complete without it. I set goals but these have to pretty flexible to fit around the other things I do.
  7. What did you find to be the hardest part about writing?
    Never having enough time to write.
  8. How long did you work on this novel?
    I was playing around with ideas for a few years, trying things out and thinking about it while I worked on other things, but once I decided to go ahead and get it done it was about ten months.
  9. What made you feel that you needed to write this particular story?
    Everything else I was working on at the time was very serious so I was looking for something more upbeat. I also think that there are far too many books where it’s the woman who has to wait around to be “saved” by the dashing hero and I wanted to see what I could do if I turned that literary convention on its head
  10. Will the Quentin Wallis story become a series or is this a stand-alone novel?
    I originally thought that this would be the only story. It’s very different from the other books I’ve written, but there’s a lot of material that didn’t make it into the book so I will at some point write another one. I haven’t finished with Quentin and Nell just yet. I also hope to release an illustrated edition at some point.
  11. What comes next, after this story? What other kind of books do we have to look forward to from you?
    I have a number of projects that I’m working on.
    My next self published piece will probably be a novella ‘Yesterday Today Tomorrow’ which is about unrequited love and loss of identity. I’m also writing a companion book to a short film I wrote, ‘Repossessed’, and which we’ve just finished filming. In the meantime there’s a couple of other projects, both novels, one of which is being polished up now in order to send it off to agents and publishers.
  12. Do you want to make a career of writing? Or have you already made it a career?
    Writing is definitely a career, but more importantly it’s a passion, and one I couldn’t walk away from if I tried. Writing books is one of many things I do, I thrive on variety, and I’m always looking at ways to be better, be more successful, and work at a higher level
  13. Since you are self-published, would you go the traditional route if the opportunity arose?
    Yes I would because I don’t see traditional and self publishing as mutually exclusive. I think they can co-exist very happily and there’s a place for both.
  14. Did you have a professional editor polish up your novel? If so, how did you go about finding them?
    I’m lucky that I had a friend who works as a script editor and she agreed to go through it a few times. I’d also talked the book through her in the ideas stage and she was a great sounding board. I’ve always struggled to find a book editor who I trust enough and want to work with. Maybe it’s because I work with other writers as an editor myself so I’m super picky and I also have a very clear idea about what I need from them.
  15. What kind of books do you read?
    I’m very omnivorous in my tastes so I read a mix of fiction and non fiction, occasionally I’ll throw a biography or some poetry into the mix to keep things interesting. I also have an almost inexplicable obsession with cook books
  16. Do you have a favorite book or series? Favorite author?
    I hate playing favourites as my reading choice depends so much on my mood but Anna Karenina is a book I love and have re-read many times. I’d also have to include most gothic and victorian literature in any list of favorites plus Jane Austen, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury (especially Farenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man), The Harry Potter books, Charmaine Harris… Alice in Wonderland is a fantastical masterpiece but I equally love the cutting wit of Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker.
    Isabel Allende, the author of ‘Zorro’ and ‘The House of the Spirits’ is a writer who inspires me greatly as is Tamora Pierce, who I was lucky enough to meet a few years ago. Her ‘Immortals’ and ‘Song of the Lioness’ series were a revelation to the teenage me and she writes fabulously strong women.
  17. In the big debate of e-book or traditional hard copy, which do you prefer?
    When I travel you can’t really beat e-books for convenience; however I could never give up real books. There’s no simpler pleasure than holding a book in your hands, cradling its reassuring weight, and feeling the silken well worn pages beneath your fingers tips. I come from a family who really prize books and reading and I find it impossible to walk past a bookstore without going in and browsing. I think that’s why it was important for me to release my titles not only as e-books but as paperbacks too.
  18. What is your favorite movie?
    How much time do we have??? I love all movies
  19. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
    Nora Ephron. She was an extraordinary writer with a career that I aspire to
  20. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers?
    Write every day, be passionate about what you’re writing, and persevere through rejection.
  21. Where can we find you on social media?
    Twitter: @CKMcTweet
    Any other platforms:

Thanks for reading. And thank you C.K. for letting me pick your brain!

Author Interview: Anderson Atlas

Hello Friends. Forgive the late post. I’m telling you, when holidays hit and you work retail, your life becomes your day job and nothing else matters. I am so tired and so happy that Easter is done and over with. I hope you all had a lovely holiday.

Now let’s get down to business. I had the pleasure of interviewing Anderson Atlas. I had the chance to read a pre-release copy of his novel Fools Apocalypse. 

Sadly, I do not have the cover with the new title, so I will share the image of the original name. I like having pictures!

Now, Fools Apocalypse does not release until June 1st so be prepared. I really enjoyed the story and you can see my review over at The Reading Bud.

On to the interview!


  1. What inspired Fools’ Apocalypse? While watching Walking Dead I realized that a long held fantasy about the end of the world was about more than just surviving hordes of horrible monsters, its about personal and political autonomy (self sufficiency) and greed. I wanted to be left alone from government and corporations and have anything I wanted at the tip of my fingers. But when I decided to write a book about surviving a deadly virus, I quickly realized how guilty I had for the ‘greed’ part of myself. It doesn’t take long for the medicines I use and the products I buy to go away or rot on the shelves. What is left is true isolation and self-sufficiency. While I still believe that freedom and the ability to guide our own lives is primordial and important for happiness, so is the economic system we are lucky to have been born into. Fools’ Apocalypse is a story about the people that contribute to the fall of society and how the guilt of it all, guides their every move, desire and changing beliefs.
  2. Are any of your characters modeled after any celebrities? No, but as an author who also loves movies, I’ve done my fair share of celebrity casting. For instance: Ian is Benedict Cumberbatch, Isabella is Michelle Rodriguez, Hana is a blond Emily Blunt, Markus is Charles S. Dutton, Ben is Kevin James ( a tough roll for him but it could be his break out of comedy role)
  3. What kind of research did you have to put into your novels? My antagonist uses my characters own political affiliations to manipulate them to do his bidding. This is based on all of my reading of political philosophy including Ayn Rand, Thomas Sowell, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and others.


  1. When did you decide to become a writer? When I was twenty-five, I found myself working nine to five with no real aspirations. I was an artist, that’s all I knew, but I didn’t know what to do with my art. I only knew I had to do something.One evening, my roommate Dave, who is no longer with us, had to pick me up from the side of the freeway because my car’s tire blew out, sending me into the median. I didn’t have a spare because the tire that blew out was the spare. It was one of those odd-looking doughnut tires that don’t seem capable of holding up a one and a half ton car.
    Dave, who was always good at lightening the mood, laughed and asked me if I had another spare in the trunk to slap on because he thought the doughnut made my car look hip. I didn’t have a spare to replace my spare.
    At that time, buying one new tire was hard and buying two new tires, impossible. That night, Dave and I chatted about bills, life and careers. I don’t remember all the conversation, but I do remember his words of wisdom: he told me to just pick something and go for it.
    I wish he could see the result of his advice.
    I picked writing and illustrating books as my career choice. I focused on school and writing late at night and on weekends. Years later, I’ve found not only the ability to write and illustrate my stories, but the LOVE OF IT.
  2. Are you self-published, small press, or other? Fools’ Apocalypse is published by Synesthesia Books which is a new publisher dedicated to illustrated novels. I work with them and am helping them build their publishing list.
  3. How do you set aside time to write? And do you have a daily word or page goal? I write an hour a day at the minimum before I go to work then at night sometimes, if I just have to get something out of my head. Many Saturdays I write all day, which is when I really get going.
  4. What did you find to be the hardest part about writing? Editing, period. I’m a horrible self-editor. That is why my publisher has a fantastic team behind the book.
  5. How long have you been working on The Extremist Edge Series? This started pouring out of me about five years ago. It’s undergone many edits and sat on my digital book shelf for quite a while. But it is so perfect now, I’m very proud of the story and book 2 as well. That will come out sometime in the fall.
  6. What made you feel that you needed to write this series? This is my way of showing what liberty really is through story and art.
  7. Do you know how many books you plan on including in this series? There will be four books ( so far ) that will walk readers through the new world and into the revelations of all 6 characters.
  8. What are your plans after you finish this series? Move to the next story that is begging to come out of me.
  9. Do you want to make a career of writing or have you already made it a career? I will have a career of writing soon. I just need to find my audience and go from there.
  10. How long did it take you write the first book of the series? Give or take 4 years.
  11. Did you draw the illustrations in Fools Apocalypse and what made you include the illustrations? Yes, I started as an illustrator. But it was hard to find an author that wanted me to illustrate their story. So I wrote one. Then because of how terrible it was, I went back to school and years later, wrote another one.
  12. Did you have a professional editor polish up your novel? If so, how did you go about finding them? OH YES, this is a must. My editing team is finalizing the edits now. Fools’ Apocalypse will be released in June.
  13. What kind of books do you read? I read anything from The Light We Cannot See, to Lord of the Rings, to Enders Game. I love great stories!
  14. Do you have a favorite book or series? Favorite author? I’ve really gotten into the King Killer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfus, but there are so many authors I like.
  15. In the big debate of e-book or traditional hard copy, which do you prefer? Both. If I’m short on cash, I buy ebook. If I’m at a bookstore I pick up the hard copy. I tend to like holding a book in my hand though.
  16. What is your favorite movie? Too many to list.
  17. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why? No one really. I respect the art of acting, writing, drawing, but I don’t feel the need to meet anyone.
  18. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers? Write what you love. Even if you don’t ever get paid, the act of writing is so warming and you learn so much about language, intent and character it really helps in the day-to-day.
  19. Anything else that you would like to add that I didn’t ask you about? No, but thank you so much for reviewing and giving me the opportunity to be interviewed.

Where can we find you on social media?

Thank you Anderson Atlas for allowing me to pick your brain! Good luck with the book launch in June!

Author Interview: Sarah Dawson Powell



Hello friends! Finally, I have brought it back. Author interviews! At least for this month. My end goal is to have at least one a month. Should I find more authors interested, it could be more than just once a month. Fingers crossed friends.

This month, I bring you Sarah Dawson Powell! I found Sarah on the comments section of a blogger that I read. She was talking about how she had just published her first book. I saw an opportunity and jumped on it. Thankfully, Sarah didn’t think I was a crazy person and agreed to let me ask her a few questions. Which brings us to today.

Read the interview, then check out her books. I will add links to what books she has published so far at the end of the interview.


  1. What inspired The Fragile Line Series?

I’m not sure. The image of Sadie, broken to pieces with a beautiful spirit inside of her, came to me one night when I was trying to fall asleep. My initial image of her was at a turning point in her life that comes a few years after the time period Beautiful takes place in. From that initial moment where I found Sadie, I wove her life together going not only forward, but backwards too. I needed to know how she got to the point I found her, and how she finds her way back to whoever she once was.

  1. Are any of your characters modeled after any celebrities?

Yes. When I introduced Aaron to the story, I needed a physical description that didn’t match any of the male characters I already had. At that moment, my kids were watching Nickelodeon and there was a commercial on for the Teen Choice Awards. Taylor Lautner appeared on the screen, and so that’s who I decided Aaron should resemble (Although, I totally thought Taylor Lautner was Justin Bieber because I was that clueless).

  1. What kind of research did you have to put into your novels?

I did a lot of research on alcoholism and addiction for Sadie’s character, particularly symptoms of withdrawal. The locations in Beautiful are real places that I am personally familiar with (except Sadie’s college and their hometown of Willow Grove is fictitious). There comes a time later in the series where I had to research another location where I’ve never been. For Ryan’s character, I had to research a specific mental illness. For the most part, I write about things I already know. I try to be as accurate as I can.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

This is a tough one. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been a story teller. In junior high and high school, I started to write short stories and some poetry. In high school and college, I worked on the school newspaper, serving as editor-in-chief of my college paper for two semesters. I began writing The Fragile Line series in March of 2010. I shared my beginnings with some friends and they gave me the energy to keep going. At the point I began writing the series, Sadie’s story had been burning in my brain for at least six months. I had to let her out to tell her story.

  1. What made you decide to self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing?

I have sent probably fifty queries to agents for Beautiful. Every single one was rejected. It was discouraging and frustrating. I convinced myself the story was horrible and that I was a bad writer. But I didn’t give up. I kept writing, I just started writing other things. I have a few young adult novels that I will publish at some point. One of them, The Truth About Lauren, actually had interest from an agent. She really liked the story, and suggested some pretty minor changes. Unfortunately, her request for changes came at a time I didn’t want to change it, so I missed that opportunity. After that, I started four different projects, three of which remain unfinished.

Late last year, my family went through a very difficult transition that took a deep financial toll on us. Christmas was fast approaching and I could barely afford to feed my family, let alone put presents under the tree. I prayed. I prayed a lot. And then I knew I needed to sell my books. So I self-published out of desperation with the hope I would be able to save Christmas for my family.

  1. How do you set aside time to write? And do you have a daily word or page goal?

I write when I feel it. Weekends are the best time for me to write. I can pound out 10,000 words in a day if that’s all I do. I don’t have a word or page goal. I have to feel it to write it. I can’t force it. Sometimes a scene will dominate my mind to the point it hurts if I don’t get it out. My family is supportive of my writing, but there are times when I get in so deep where I begin to neglect the rest of my life.

  1. What did you find to be the hardest part about writing?

Honestly, nothing. I love words and the power that they hold. I am lucky that it comes so easy for me. I guess the hardest part is stopping.

  1. How long have you been working on the Fragile Line Series?

I began in March 2010. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about publishing it. I just had to get it out of my head. I finished in October 2010. It was 318,598 words and 681 pages long. Then I began rewriting. I decided to split the full thing up into smaller novels, and Beautiful is the first installment.

  1. What made you feel that you needed to write this series?

Sadie’s story needed to be told. There are a million girls out there dealing with the things she deals with. I feel that people like to pretend that these problems don’t exist in our world, and never could a couple of good kids like Sadie and Ryan end up the way they do in Beautiful. But this is reality. It’s happening. I wanted to people to realize that.

  1. Do you know how many books you plan on including in this series?

I do not. I have five completed, and that covers about a third of the original story. I have added stuff and taken stuff out. It’s really hard to say when it will end.

  1. What are your plans after you finish this series?

I’m not sure. I have written a couple of YA novels, as I mentioned above, so I will publish those along the way. I plan to finish my incomplete projects as well.

  1. Do you want to make a career of writing?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes. That is my dream.

  1. Since you are self-published, would you go the traditional route if the opportunity arose?

I would. It would be amazing to not have to worry about the cover or marketing. And it would be even more amazing to hold my work in my hand in actual book form.

  1. How long did it take you to write the first book of the series?

When I began rewriting, it went rather quickly. I think it took me about three months to finish it.

  1. Did you have a professional editor polish up your novel? If so, how did you go about finding them?

Nope, all the typos are my own fault. I have had a few friends look things over and give me pointers over the years, but no one I have ever paid.

  1. What kind of books do you read?

I read contemporary fiction for adults and teens. I also like memoirs of people who have overcome obstacles in their lives. I cannot comprehend vampires, werewolves, or anything else that is ‘fake’. Although I did read the Twilight series while I was writing Beautiful.

  1. Do you have a favorite book or series? Favorite author?

My all-time favorite book is Divine by Karen Kingsbury. My two favorite authors are Karen Kingsbury and Ellen Hopkins. And anyone who knows who these two authors, are knows that they are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to contemporary fiction.

  1. In the big debate of e-book or traditional hard copy, which do you prefer?

Odd as it may be, I prefer traditional hard copy. I have a Kindle and a Nook, and I use them, but I still love to feel the pages in my hand.

  1. What is your favorite movie?

I have three. Gone With the Wind, My Girl, and Titanic.

  1. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

Taylor Swift. Her songs have inspired so much of my writing. The words ‘fragile line’ are actually from one of her songs. She has haters, and I don’t care. I think she’s awesome.

  1. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring writers?

Just keep writing and reading. Writing gets better with time and practice. Reading lets you see different styles. Think of it like a sport: practice every chance you get and observe how the greats do it.

  1. Anything else that you would like to add that I didn’t ask you about?

I just want to say that I am overwhelmed and humbled at the love I have received from people with regard to my books. When I hear that someone couldn’t put my book down, or that my words made them cry, or made them angry, it means the world to me! Readers need to know how important it is to review a book.

Where can we find you on social media?
Blog: SarahDawsonPowell There are previews to all three books on the blog!
Facebook:  TheFragileLine
Twitter: @sarahpowell8
Instagram: sarah_dawson_powell
Goodreads: Honestly, I kinda forgot about Goodreads. I used to have the app on my phone and deleted it at some point. I will make it a point to get this updated!


Thank you again Sarah for allowing me to pick your brain.

To my readers, if you read any books by Sarah, please leave a review. We all know the importance of supporting authors. They need our feedback. Especially the ones that have self published.

As promised, here are the links to the Goodreads pages of the books by Sarah.

28095485 Book one: Beautiful

28355697Book two: Falling

28817109Book three: Pieces


Author Interview: Toby Downton

Toby Downton

Hello Nerds!

Tuesday I posted a reivew of Solarversia, a novel by Toby Downton. Great news, I was lucky to get an interview with the author! I was supposed to share this with you yesterday, but my slacking nature and need to procrastinate put me a day behind. So, without further delay, I present to you…



  1. What inspired Solarversia?

I spent ten years searching for meaning in my life. What was I here to do? What is this thing called life and where did it come from? I read lots, travelled lots and met a ton of people. In 2010, a lot of the stuff I’d learned about came together in a vision of sorts – the idea for a year-long game played in a virtual world had arrived. There are many, many things, ideas and people that I can see reflected in the book. Willy Wonka, P.T. Barnum (the great American showman), The Burning Man festival (which I attended in 2011), and something called The Million Dollar Homepage – they’re all in there!

  1. What kind of research did you have to do?

I had to start with the basics. I hadn’t written a single word of creative writing since primary school, when my stories tended to end with me waking up from a dream. So a lot of my research was actually learning how to write. I’m talking the basics here – the distinction between “showing” and “telling” for instance.

  1. Could you briefly explain your research method?

I think research is easier than it’s been at any point in history. The internet probably solved 95% of the many questions and queries I had. And it probably helped me solve the other 5% indirectly by helping me find the person I needed to talk to. It helped me find my editor, proofreader and cover artist for instance. I asked a couple of questions on the maths subreddit, and also used the books in my library for digging into some the technical questions I had.

  1. Overall, how long did it take you to write Solarversia?

It took three months to create the plot and then one year to write the book, which took five drafts. Naturally, draft one took the longest, maybe six months or so, with the proceeding drafts taking less and less time, as you’d expect. So 15 months in total. But a fair amount of that time I spent on marketing too – contacting people on Twitter and directing them to my website where I offered them a free copy of the book if they signed up to the newsletter. I reckon the time split between writing and marketing was roughly 60/40.

  1. Do you have any other works in the making right now?

I’m currently working on a novella for my company Matter, the company I took a year’s sabbatical from in order to write the book. It’s a fictionalized day-in-the-life thing, where the days are in the years 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. It shows the progression of technology and the impact on society and culture. Hoping to publish it by Christmas.

  1. What was your greatest struggle while writing this book?

There were several occasions when my editor pointed out serious issues with the story as it stood. For example, halfway through the first draft she rightly pointed out that the various narratives weren’t interweaved in a cohesive manner. It felt like a huge blow at the time, because I knew that she was 100% correct in what she was saying. It required a lot of thinking and reworking and it was a struggle to find the energy and motivation to keep going on a couple of occasions.

  1. What inspired you to start writing?

The Facebook purchase of Oculus Rift in March 2014 was the single event that inspired me, there’s no doubting that (I started working on the plot only a few days after the announcement). I knew that there was no better time in history to be writing a book about a game played in virtual reality and I desperately wanted it to come out in time for the launch of VR headsets onto the consumer market.

  1. Do you have a favorite spot to write?

I don’t have one yet! I prefer an office environment: a tidy desk, a cup of tea and bit of background noise.

  1. Who is your favorite author?

Iain M. Banks, I love his sci-fi stuff, it’s incredible. I want to build the Culture – the interstellar anarchist utopian society he created – for real.

  1. What was your end goal when you started writing Solarversia?

The book is meant as a promotional tool for the real world game of Solarversia, which I’d like to launch on the same date in 2020. The goal was to show people the kind of company I wanted to create, and the kind of immersive game I think people want to play. The goal is to get a traditional publishing deal, to sell the movie rights, and to attract venture capital to make the game for real so that people can actually play it.

  1. What have you learned from the process of self-publishing?

I’ve learned that you need to treat the enterprise like a proper business. Every aspect that a traditional publisher handles for its authors is something that needs to be tackled: the cover art, the editing, the proofreading, and the marketing. To stand any chance of success, these things need to be done professionally because readers are discerning, and can be unforgiving.

  1. If you could go back, what would you have done differently?

I would have spent more time with my editor at the start of the project, going through the plot. If we’d have spent a few more hours going through it together I reckon I could have saved myself about 50 hours of additional work later on.

  1. Why did you decide to self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing?

The first reason concerns the amount of control you have. The things I mentioned above that you need to do for yourself; you have 100% control over them. It might mean a lot of additional work, but it’s also very liberating. The second reason concerns the deadline I was facing – wanting to get the book out in time for the release of the Oculus Rift headset. There was no way I was going to get it published in time if I went the traditional route; it just takes far too long. Because I’ve self-published, my book will be out six months before Oculus, as opposed to six months after it! To be clear, I didn’t even consider traditional publishing.

  1. How did the cover art come about? I think the cover is wonderful.

Thanks! I went to and chose someone who had created several thousand book covers and received lots of positive feedback. The process involved me having to choose an image from a stock photography site. Naturally I searched for terms like “virtual reality” and shortlisted about twenty pictures. The one I chose incorporated many of the elements from the book. Obviously the eyes are organ of vision, the most important way of perceiving reality, virtual or otherwise. Overlaid on that was a grid, which represents the Player’s Grid, and around the eye were a bunch of numbers, representing the Player Numbers. It just seemed to work so well, and, importantly, still looked good at thumbnail size.

  1. Outside of writing, what other hobbies do you have a passion for?

Reading (of course!), travelling, meeting new people and learning about new things. As you might expect, given the themes within the book, I’m especially interested in evolution and futurology. Where is mankind going, and how much control do we have over our collective destiny?

  1. Are there any authors that inspired your work on Solarversia?

Ernie Cline (author of Ready Player One) and Hugh Howey (author of the brilliant Wool trilogy) were two big inspirations. Ernie proved that you can write a best-selling book about a game played in virtual reality – he led the way. Hugh’s writing is amazingly good, but he also blogs a lot on the topic of self-publishing and his posts have been incredibly useful.

  1. What was your biggest fear when sending off your novel for its first round of editing by someone other than yourself?

It didn’t really work like that for me. I found Helena (my editor) early on in the process when I’d written only three or four chapters. We worked together on a chapter-by-chapter basis from then on. I was more excited than scared when sending new chapters to her because her feedback was always so insightful. And I loved it when she me praised my work – I felt like a school kid receiving a gold star from my favourite teacher.

  1. Did you ever stop and question your own writing? Was there a moment in writing and editing that you considered not publishing your novel?

Many times (in answer to the first question). Because I’d spent three months working on a plot I always knew roughly what scene was coming up. But then I’d come to actually write some of them and wonder how the hell I would actually do it. Sometimes the ideas I’d had didn’t translate very well into something that was interesting from the perspective of the narrative, so I needed to change tack somewhat. But not once did things get so bad that I considered not publishing it, not even for a single second.

  1. Would you traditionally publish if a publishing company approached you about Solarversia?

Absolutely! I think it’s every self-published author’s dream for their book to be successful enough that a traditional publisher takes note and wants to sign them. I think you’d be a fool not to sign up, given that traditional publishers are still the only real way to get your book into retail stores. That’s the missing element for me, and the value a traditional publisher would provide me. Stay tuned!

  1. Last question, where on the internet can your readers find you?

First and foremost they should check out my About page to get a quick taste of what’s in store for them. My promotional strategy is focused around something called the Golden Grid, which is a 10×10 section of the Player’s Grid. If the book sounds interesting, people should read and review it on Amazon before the 30th September so they can participate in the first competition – Lowest Unique Number – which is one of the challenges Nova, the protagonist, faces in the book at one stage. The winner of that game will win square number 993, which is very central. And as readers of the book know, the central squares are the cool ones! After that, at some point in October, there’ll be a Solarversia quiz to win square number 1897. Also, I’m on Twitter and make a great effort to reply to anyone who tweets me. Come and say hello!


A major thank you to Toby for suffering through my questions and for allowing me early access to this really awesome novel. The novel will be released August 31st and I suggest you all jump on this bandwagon before it takes off with out you.

**Are you a self published author? Are you looking for a few people to do a review for your novel? Hit me up on my contact page. If you are willing, I need more authors for my monthly spotlight.**


Author Interview: Andrew Rowe

I realize that this is a little later than I usually have the author interviews, but I am still trying to figure this whole thing out. Lucky for me I have worked with some awesome, understanding, and pleasant authors.

Another thank you to Andrew Rowe for allowing me to pick his brain!


You can find my review of his novel HERE.


  1. What inspired your novel?

As a role-playing game designer, I’ve worked on a variety of different settings over the years. The world that Forging Divinity takes place in was developed for one of my pen and paper role-playing game campaigns, and I’ve built on it gradually over the course of many years.

This specific story started off in a somewhat strange place – I wanted to write a fantasy novel with a hero confronting progressively stronger opposition, similar to a shonen anime or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Throughout the process of writing it, the story shifted significantly, although Taelien’s chapters retain some of the combat-focused design from the original concept.

  1. The names of your character are so unique. How did you find names for them?

My starting point for my names was making sure that they’re familiar enough to be pronounceable, but interesting enough to be memorable. Many of the names relate to other elements within the setting and share linguistic characteristics. For example, astute readers have noted that I use several names for people and objects that have a single letter followed by “ae” as a prefix. (Taelien, Sae’kes, Vae’kes etc.)

These items and characters with similar naming conventions share characteristics that will be revealed as the reader learns more about the languages used in the story. (Much of which will happen in future novels.)

  1. What author/authors inspire your writing?

The most obvious is Brandon Sanderson, since he’s popularized the idea of magical systems that have clear rules and limitations. I’ve always enjoyed similar systems and seeing Brandon’s success helped me realize that writing one within a novel was a viable option.

I thoroughly enjoy the complex and morally gray characters in George R.R. Martin’s works, as well as authors like Joe Abercrombie and Django Wexler.

Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch inspire a lot of my interest in more roguish characters, and I’d say that they had some degree of influence on how I write Jonan’s chapters.

Finally, Will Wight is fantastic at combat scenes and his writing (as well as Sanderson’s) helped influence how I depict combat.

  1. How do you deal with writers block or lack of inspiration?

That’s a tough one. I try to set aside a block of time every week to write – typically Sunday – and work on something even if I’m not exactly in the mood. If I can’t find the inspiration to write prose, I’ll try to do something related, like working on an outline, research, or rereading my earlier chapters.

I also often listen to music for inspiration. In particular, I enjoy listening to remixes of older game music and anime themes.

  1. What made you decide to self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing?

First, I wanted to ensure that I had complete control over my intellectual property.

I also wanted to have the opportunity to prove the viability of my work without an outside publisher pushing it from a marketing standpoint. If I can show that I can sell thousands of copies on my own, theoretically it should make my book more likely to be picked up for a better deal if I decide I want to go to a publisher directly in the future.

I also retain more creative control over other elements, such as the cover. I was able to approach the artist I wanted directly, and as a result I believe I found the best artist possible for matching the style that I wanted.

Finally, I retain a much larger percentage of book profits this way, so if the book ends up being a huge success I’ll be able to retain a significant percentage of the net gains.

  1. Would you ever want to be published traditionally?

I’d definitely consider it, but it would depend on the terms of the deal. It’d be nice to get copies directly into bookstores, and extra marketing would be useful, but self-publishing definitely has advantages.

  1. When did you start writing? What sparked your interest?

I’ve been writing little things here and there since childhood. As a kid, my heroes were always adventurers – often the green tunic wearing ones, like Peter Pan, Robin Hood, and Link.

I remember writing my first little stories about characters of my own creation during elementary school, right around the time I started reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first book in the Dragonlance series. I was already playing Dungeons and Dragons at that point, both in pen and paper and CRPG formats – Pool of Radiance was one of my first PC games. I think Dragonlance and D&D had a huge influence on my early life and my interest in writing.

  1. Would or have you considered venturing into other genres?

Absolutely. One of my earlier attempts at a novel was a comedic deconstruction of the traditional fantasy assassin novel, for example. I’ve also been strongly considering writing a “trapped in a MMORPG” style book, given that I’ve worked on MMORPGs for many years and how much interest there is in that genre with anime, manga, and novels like Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, Overlord, etc.

  1. What is your favorite genre when reading?

Fantasy with well-defined magic systems.

  1. Do you have a favorite author?

Probably Brandon Sanderson at the moment. I also really enjoy Jim Butcher and Steven Brust’s works.

  1. Where do you find it easiest to write? Your favorite spot to shut out the world and step into your stories.

I write in my bedroom with all the doors closed. I often have some music playing – but nothing too distracting.

  1. Do you have a dream office/ writing spot?

I’m pretty happy writing in my bedroom, but I wouldn’t mind having a bigger one someday. =D

  1. If you could co-write with any famous author, who would you pick?

That’s a really tough one. Sanderson would be the most logical choice and he’d be a good pick. I’d also strongly consider Jim Butcher – he’s a fantastic writer and I think he’d be a ton of fun to work with.

  1. Where do you want your writing career to go?

I’d love to build my world into a franchise. Since I work at one of the best RPG developers in the world, it would be my dream to eventually get Obsidian to make a game in my setting.

Eventually, I’d like to be writing closer to full time, although I enjoy working on game design as well. Moving into doing more narrative design work for Obsidian could also be a lot of fun.

  1. When can we expect another novel from you? I am anxiously waiting.

I’m expecting to release the sequel to Forging Divinity, which is tentatively titled Stealing Sorcery, sometime in the winter of this year or early next year.

  1. Your cover art is beautiful. Could you briefly describe the process of finding the right artist and concept for the cover?

Thank you! Initially, I went through books in Barnes and Noble looking for the artists I liked and looking them up online. Once I had found a bunch of them, I also looked for related or similar artists on DeviantArt and similar sites.

Eventually, I stumbled upon the work of Daniel Kamarudin on DeviantArt and I absolutely loved it. I contacted him to see if he was taking commissions and we negotiated out all the details. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m proud to say that I’m working with him again for the second book.

  1. What other hobbies and interest take up your time when you are not writing?

I work in the computer gaming industry, so that takes up a ton of my time, and I also play a lot of computer and video games for fun.

Aside from that, I also enjoy tabletop gaming and live-action role-playing.

I also watch a ton of anime, read a few manga and manhwa here and there, and read a ton of books.

  1. If you could bring one of your characters to reality, who would it be and why?

Probably one of my gods (which one I’d pick would probably be a spoiler), so I could convince him or her to give me super powers. I’m an optimizer – I’d have to pick whatever would get the best results.

  1. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing?

Great question. I’d say that it’s probably that weaknesses and limitations – in characters, magic systems, or items – can be as or more important than strengths.

As a young writer, I just wanted to make everything as powerful and awesome as I could imagine. As I’ve gained experience, I’ve found that writing an underdog character or an item with limitations can make them vastly more interesting, in my opinion. Challenges build character.

  1. Lastly, where you can your readers find you on the internet?

You can find my blog at I also have a Forging Divinity Facebook page and you can find me on Twitter here.


If you know of any self-published or even small press authors that would be willing to speak with me, send them my way! If you are a self-published/small press author head on over to my contact page and send me an e-mail. Maybe you can be my next featured author!


Author Interview: Gerald Barnes

Gerald Barnes

It is that time again! Time for another author interview. This month Gerald Barnes was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day to answer a few questions for me.

You can read my review of his novel The Darkest Tool over at The Reading Bud (HERE.)

You can find more information about Gerald over at Goodreads.

Thank you so much, Gerald for letting me pick your brain. I can not wait to see more from you!


What inspired the Darkest Tool novel?
I’ve loved the horror genre since Goosebumps by RL Stine. I stepped up and began reading teen horror around third grade. I was already having vivid nightmares by then, but I never blamed them on the books. Some of those dreams stayed with me. When I was twenty one I decided that I didn’t want those images to be wasted. I began writing a novel about a guy trying to understand his nightly torments. The story was very rough and evolved from there.

I noticed on Goodreads that you plan for The Darkest Tool to be part of a series. When do you think we will see another novel in this series and will we see any of the characters from the first novel, or will it follow a new main character?
I’m not sure when Ill pick the series back up. I do have an idea of where Id like it to go. All the main characters will return but the story will be more focused on the struggle between Angels and Demons. Lucifer’s struggle to uphold the balance without losing credibility/respect as the leader of darkness will be a central theme.

What made you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I self published because I had no clue how to go about the traditional route. It was the easiest way to get the novel out there so I went for it.

Do you want to venture into other genres?
The novel I’m working on currently is far from a horror novel. Its Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Magic. I’m not in a hurry to surround myself with demons again. 🙂

As an indie author, what has been your biggest struggle?
My biggest struggle as an indie author is getting exposure. It can get expensive to pay for websites like FreeBooksy or Book Bub to promote free giveaways. At this point I’ve spent more than I’ve made, but that’s ok. I love this as a hobby.

If you were approached by a publisher wanting to sign you, would you consider it or do you want to stay within the indie publishing?
If a publisher ever approached me id have no clue what to expect. Im pretty sure my wife and I would a lifetime moment. I couldn’t imagine not running with that opportunity.

How long did it take you to write The Darkest Tool?
I finished the first draft when I was 21. I didn’t back it up though. There was a party at my apartment and a beer was spilled on my computer. That was a bummer…freaking crushed me. A few years later I rewrote it from memory and you better believe I backed that up. But I never did anything with it. It sat around until I was 31. My wife stumbled upon it and encouraged me to get it out there. I contacted an editor through Elance and that’s when the story really came alive. Allsion Itterly, my editor, brought the story out I was trying to tell. She was an amazing coach. The transformation from what I submitted to her to what I published was almost unrecognizable. Thank you Allison.

After finishing the first draft, how long did you spend editing before you decided to publish?
 I published within a day or two of completing the editing process. Editing took close to 6 months.

What are some of the hardest struggles you have faced in your writing career?
The only real struggle is not being able to do it full time. My dream would be to make a career out of it, something that could support a family. In reality though, at this point it’s just a hobby.

Do you have a favorite place to write?
I rented a cabin for three days and finished adding needed scenes during the 2nd round of editing. That was great. Really, I can write anywhere if I just sit down and make myself do it. I try not to force things though. When it hits it hits.

What inspired you to start writing? Was there any one point in your life where you decided it was something you wanted to seriously pursue?
I’ve always loved books. I have a fairly large collection I’m proud of and sometimes just sit and reminisce as I look over the titles. English was my favorite subject in school. It has always been a natural pull for me. I’m not sure that i have fully decided that its something I want to pursue. I mean its my dream, but my family comes first. I have to make a living. I write when I can, and when I feel its not forced.

Do you have a favorite author?
 If I was forced to name only three authors…at the moment I would say: Stephen King. Pat Conroy. Christopher Moore.

Are there any authors that inspired your own writing?
Stephen King is a huge inspiration. I’ve read most of his books, On Writing included.

When you are having trouble writing, “writers block”, what do you do to overcome that obstacle?
I stop the physical act of writing and go about my life. My mind gradually works it out.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Almost Anything Fiction. Recently I’ve just loved anything Christopher Moore. He makes me laugh. I imagine him as a pretty light guy. I wish I was lighter.

Do you have any hobbies other than writing?
Cooking and BBQ are my go to hobbies on my days off. I love to be with my family. Some of the best days are just hanging out by the pool. I live for those days actually. I love to read or be read to (audio books). I’m a slightly below average tennis player. My dad and I play when we can. I love football. Much to my wife’s annoyance I also enjoy gaming.

Who is your favorite character from The Darkest Tool?
I would have thought that Arioch would be my favorite character. But if I’m really be honest with myself…Lucifer. (looks up with a cringe) Phew, I’m still here.

What other kind of novels can we expect from you in the future?
 I have a few stories rolling around in my head. One is a comedy. Another is Fantasy. And then there is the sequel to The Darkest Tool.

Where do you hope your writing career will be in 10 years?
My hope, my dream, my private wish…quit my sales job and work full time as a writer. By full time I mean whenever I’m feeling it and enjoying my days of freedom. As long as I could provide my family with a comfortable middle class lifestyle Id jump all over it. Until then, Sales it is.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there?
If its in you then do it. If you can see a story take shape in your head like a movie then you should give it a try. Even if its just a hobby I think you will find a deep satisfaction and pride for having followed through. Also, read. Read a ton, Study your craft.


If you are a self-published author and would be interested in being my next featured author, just go over to my contact page and send me an e-mail. I love meeting new authors and finding new books.


Author Interview: Rachel E. Judd

Rachel E Judd

Here we are again. That time of the month where I bring you an interview of an awesome self-published/Indie author. Why? Because we have to spread the word of these awesome authors so that their fandom can grow. And so we can support the ones who put a lot of work into their babies so that we can all bring them into our world and basically tear them apart.

If you remember last month, I gave you an interview with Jonas Lee (read HERE). Then this amazing thing happened and this lovely author thanked me for writing a review on her novel Rain of Ash. That is when the idea struck. I could interview indie authors and spread the word about their wonderful work. I could make this a monthly thing on my blog! At least until I have more authors. Then maybe it will be twice a month.

Anyways, on to the interview. I warn you, the questions are pretty much the same as Jonas Lee’s questions, but I am working on changing these up for future interviews (which I already have two lined up!).

AuthorinterviewWhat inspired your novel “Rain of Ash”?
Ever since I was a young teenager, I’ve always enjoyed vampire stories – and my favorite part of those stories were usually the hunters Van Helsing is my favorite character in Dracula (though, confession: I’ve never watched Buffy). I’ve also really enjoyed the rise of urban fantasy as a genre, I love the juxtaposition of traditional myth and folklore with modern settings. And one theme which runs through a lot of my work is exploring the different relationships between women.

So when I sat down to write Rain of Ash, the broad strokes were already there – a vampire hunter novel, about a main character who’s biggest challenge was navigating the relationships with the various women in her life.

How many books should we be looking for in the series? And when should we expect the next book to be released?
I don’t want the Project Fifteen series to go on forever – I have a specific end in mind, and I know roughly how the characters will get there. I’m not sure if this will end up being a trilogy, I suspect the entire series will end up being 4 or 5 books (depending on which twists the characters end up taking to get there!).

As far as when to release the sequel – I’m hoping the spring of 2016! I’m already 30,000 words into the next book, and assuming I don’t throw out half the plotline and start over (which has happened once already), I think I’m on track for a spring release.

How long did it take you to write Rain of Ash?
Quite a while, actually. I started the first draft years ago as a just-for-fun thing. I would pick up the story, work on it a bit, then put it down for months at a time. But once I pulled together a writing group (and therefore had a deadline for each installment), I finished the book in about ten months.

After you finished writing the novel, how long did it take to polish and publish it?
Probably about three or four months. I did a ton of revising through both computer and on paper… and about halfway through, realized there was a pretty big plot hole near the end I needed to patch, so that also took a little more time.

A lot of authors say that some of their characters take on characteristics of them. What character is more like you?
I don’t really enjoy fiction with obvious authorial self-inserts, so I try and stay aware of when I might be doing that for my own characters. Gwen’s history of having a religious upbringing and then later moving away from that mirrors my own; though she’s definitely more of an action-oriented person than I am. For awhile, I thought I’d become a librarian, and I put that part of me into Aaron. I like good craft beer the same as Roy, too. And I chose to set the story in Santa Barbara because that’s a town with a lot of good memories for me!

Do you want to venture into other genres?
Yes, most definitely! I’ve been attracted to the post-apocalyptic genre, but I’d like to see how things change if the apocalypse had a magical origin instead of scientific one. I also have recently developed a love of Westerns, and that’s a genre I’d also like to explore.

What obstacles have you faced in your own writing journey?
Self-discipline – it can be hard to work on the same project day after day, especially when I get stuck. I’ve finally decided it’s okay to have multiple projects going at once, which helps keep me doing something, even if it’s not my core project.

What do you dislike most about being an Indie author? Or, what is the hardest part of it?
I’m really bad at self-promotion, and I never quite know how to talk about myself and my work.

Do you have a favorite place to write?
The south end of my (very large) dining room table is my creative corner. But as long as I have my computer, I can write anywhere.

What was it like when your novel was edited for the first time by someone other than yourself? Was it painful to see suggestions to change certain aspects of your novel?
To a certain extent, I steeled myself for criticism when I sent drafts out to my beta readers, and told myself that no matter what they said or how hard it was to hear, anything they said was because they wanted to help me. Perhaps it was that attitude which made the beta reader feedback easy to take. But fortunately, no one said that any of my core ideas weren’t working; I might have reacted quite differently if a beta reader said they didn’t like how Gwen’s relationship with Lydia drives her forward!

Do you plan on becoming a traditionally published author, or do you want to stay as an indie author?
Indie indie indie indie. I am so excited by the indie revolution in books, music, games and film; and I want to be a part of that.

What inspired you to start writing? At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a very small child, my mother bought me and my sister these really elaborate journals, bound in white leather with our initials on the spine in gold. We were too young to really write coherently, but we dictated our thoughts and feelings, and my mother dutifully wrote them down. And even though writing my name in crayon was a challenge at the time, I nevertheless told my mother that I wanted to be an author when I grew up.

What author inspires you the most in your own writing?
Lilith Saintcrow. She writes the same sort of female-driven urban fantasy adventure stories that I do, and I love her characters, her worldbuilding and her way of stringing words together. I also enjoy Jim Butcher’s mastery of dramatic pacing. Gwen’s fake name Jill Murphy is an homage to characters I’ve enjoyed in both Saintcrow’s and Butcher’s work.

If you could collaborate with any other writer, who would it be? What kind of story do you think would come of it?
Definitely the two authors I’ve mentioned above.

How has your family been when it comes to writing? Where they supportive? Did anyone doubt you could be an author? Did you have anyone that tried to bring you down?
My mother has been my biggest fan, she’s a wonderful person! My dad did read my book, but I think he would have liked it better if I’d written a Clancy-esque political thriller, which is what he normally reads. I’m not sure if my brother or sister have read it, and I’m pretty sure my extended family hasn’t (they’re mostly very religious people, I’m not (at least not their religion), so we don’t speak much).

What do you hope others take away from your stories?
Mostly, I just hope people are entertained enough to come back for more!

Do you have any other hobbies other than writing?
Yes! Quite a few! I’m heavily involved in my local LARP (live-action roleplay) community; I love the hobby and I love all the amazing, creative and passionate people I’ve met through it (and continue to meet!). As a result of my involvement in larp, I’ve taught myself how to sew and am right now learning beadwork. I also enjoy brewing beer and have an extensive collection of video games.

Where do you hope your career will be in 10 years?
My hope is to expand into the transmedia sphere, and to be able to work on books, games and other ways to tell stories.

Do you have a dream office?
Anywhere quiet and sunny with a fast Internet connection works for me!

Is writing now your full time job?
I have a couple other projects in other media, but yes, all of them together are a full-time job.

Who is your favorite author to read?
Such a difficult question! It really depends on my mood, and why I’m reading. Honestly, I like finding other indie authors and reading what they have out. I’ve found a diverse plethora of stories and styles I wouldn’t have found otherwise!

They say that writers read (or should read) as much as they write. Do you find this true in your personal life?
I actually don’t think it’s quite necessary to read, per se, but you should always be consuming new stories. Reading, of course, helps you pick up on the genre conventions and absorb the best way to word a phrase. But pay attention to the stories on TV, on film, in games and graphic novels and anywhere else you can find narrative. Pay attention to how a TV show tells it’s story, and compare it to the way a novel does. Because the story is the most important part – once you get that down, you can do anything!

Do you have any advice for other writers? Any tips or tricks that you may have learned along the way?
A lot of writers say ‘keep writing’, and that’s true. You have to write at least a little bit every day; that’s the only way to make progress. But I’ve also found that I can’t rely on other people’s expectations or feedback. Know that you are a good writer, work to make your writing the absolute best that it can be, and be sure that there are people out there just dying to read what you’ve wrote. That’s the sort of perseverance which will see you through!


Thank you so much Rachel for letting me pick your mind. I can’t wait to see more from you!

You can read my book review at The Reading Bud HERE.

You can read more about Rachel at Goodreads.