Author’s Spotlight: J.M. McKenzie Interview

J.M. McKenzie, author of Wait for Me and Trident Edge

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

I write under the pen name J.M. McKenzie. I’m Scottish but live in the UK Midlands.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

I’m the author of Wait for Me and Trident Edge, which are both set in the UK after a bio terror attack and tell the story of an ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey to survive and get home in a world that has changed forever and is now dangerous and unpredictable. My genre is zombie apocalypse.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Lisa, my main character, is introverted and analytical. She is not your typical machete wielding, gun toting, alpha male zombie apocalypse survivor. I wanted to write a story about how an ordinary woman would react and behave in an apocalyptic scenario.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

The hardest scene to write was a chapter in the first book involving an evil and violent group of survivors. The scene did not feature in the first draft but was added after feedback from Beta readers – against my better judgment.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

After dipping my toe into the lottery of traditional publishing I decided to self-publish and have no regrets about my decision. I have more control over my content, a bigger share of my royalties and people are reading and enjoying my books!

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

I think the most difficult part of my writing journey was getting the first book finished. It was a slog, a constant battle with confidence and self-belief and a steep learning curve. I’ve very much been on a roll since then.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

The first two books are a series. Trident Edge is set six months after Wait for Me and is a continuation of Lisa’s story. My current work-in-progress, Amenti Rising, is a stand-alone story about a different group of survivors in a different location but in the same zombie apocalypse.

8. Who are some of your favourite authors, what are some of your favourite books, and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

I read a lot in many different genres. A few of my favourite non-horror authors include Margaret Atwood, Donna Tart and Emily St. John Mandel. In the horror genre I like Stephen King and Paul Tremblay. In the zombie genre I like M.R. Carey, Chris Philbrook, Rhiannon Frater, Sarah Lyons Fleming, Mira Grant, Max Brooks and Carrie Ryan. I love all of their books but a few stand outs are Alias Grace, A Secret History, Station Eleven, The Stand, Survivor Song, The Girl with all the Gifts and Adrian’s Undead Diaries … I could go on but I’ll stop here.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I have done most of my marketing on social media, Facebook and Twitter in the main. Just starting to have a go on Instagram. This year I’m going to come off KUP and try a Book Bub ad!

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t like the fact that many zombie apocalypse books are so macho with lots of guns and very big knives and people who adapt to extreme violence so easily and quickly- real life is not like that and neither are my books!

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I read all my reviews and use the best ones for marketing purposes. Generally they have been positive but I’ve had an occasional negative comment. I don’t take it to heart- you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes I even agree with them. Reference “evil” scene in Wait for Me. I’ll follow my own judgement in the future!

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I write in silence. I hate being interrupted! When I get into the zone I can write for hours without a break. I used to be a “pantser” but I have plotted out every scene in Amenti Rising and am loving the process. I think the book will be all the better for it!

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

The best advice I got as a writer was from Chris Philbrook, author of Adrian’s Undead Diaries. He said that whoever you are and whatever you write there will always be someone out there who loves your book.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I’m currently 40K words into Amenti Rising and I think it’s going to be a corker! I already have the cover!

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Ambrose Stolliker Interview

Ambrose Stolliker, author of The Strange Nighttime Journey of Father Stephen Marlowe and others

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is Ambrose Stolliker. I grew up in the New York Metro area but have lived in the Seattle area for the last twenty-three years.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

The Strange Nighttime Journey of Father Stephen Marlowe is a supernatural horror novel and was released by indie publishing house Muddy Paw Press in late May 2022. Here’s the back of the book summary:

In the year since his brother, Chris, committed suicide, Father Stephen Marlowe has not been able to pick up the pieces. He is racked with guilt over what he believes was his part in Chris’ death and his once-meteoric rise through the Catholic Church in New York City has come to an ignominious end. Haunted by disturbing dreams of his brother suffering in a hellish underworld, Marlowe is at the breaking point. At the behest of his superiors, he goes to St. Michael the Archangel Church in the Bronx to seek counsel from a mysterious priest who specializes in helping spiritually troubled clergy. There, as he reluctantly attempts to make confession and unburden his soul, the church is rocked by a powerful earthquake. The confessional disintegrates, the floor crumbles away beneath him, and Marlowe is plunged into a world both wondrous and terrifying where he must fight to save his brother’s immortal soul.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Father Stephen Marlowe is a Roman Catholic priest who serves as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Queens, N.Y. When we first meet Father Marlowe, he is in a profound state of spiritual crisis and is doubting his ability to continue on in his vocation as a priest. Deep down, Marlowe is a good and decent man, but he has his failings, one of which is an imperfect understanding of what it means to love unconditionally.

In earlier iterations of the story, Marlowe was portrayed as a much younger man, a priest fresh out of seminary who sees the world in very black and white terms and with a confidence he probably has not earned. As I developed the story through subsequent drafts, I felt like he needed to be an older, perhaps middle-aged man who has been beaten down by the harshness of the outside world and weighed down by the guilt and shame associated with what he sees as his own failings. I felt that in order for him to be a more compelling character readers would empathize with, he needed to be in a dark place when the story opens so he can evolve into a different and, hopefully, wiser and more hopeful person by the time his journey ends.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

That’s a tough question. There are a lot of scenes in the book that contribute to Father Marlowe’s character arc, but I’d say my favorite one is the opening scene. The story begins with Marlowe arriving on a pediatric cancer ward in New York City so he can administer Last Rites to a young girl dying of cancer. I’ve heard some readers describe the scene as “an emotional gut punch” that sets the stage for the central conflict of the story, which is Marlowe’s profound crisis of faith. By the time the scene ends, it is very clear that Marlowe no longer believes in God and the only course of action he can see is to leave the priesthood for good.

The scene was difficult to write, not only because of the emotional impact of trying to portray the death of an innocent child, but because there’s a fine line between drama and melodrama. I probably put the scene through at least three drafts before I was satisfied with it, though, like most writers, I’m NEVER completely satisfied with anything I write.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

I went the traditional route. The Strange Nighttime Journey of Father Stephen Marlowe was submitted to around thirty or forty literary agents, and didn’t get a single sniff. Not one. After a while, I began to suspect it MIGHT be because, as a novel, it IS on the short side at only 47,000 words. That’s just a guess though. It’s such a subjective business as all writers know, so perhaps the premise just didn’t resonate with the agents I targeted.

In any case, I eventually gave up on trying to secure an agent and instead began submitting it to independent and small horror presses. At first, it was tough going, but, eventually, I had a press ask for the full manuscript. My hopes were dashed when, several weeks later, they told me they enjoyed it but they wouldn’t take it on. I remained undeterred, however, and continued to submit it.

Then, one day last summer, Tyler Hauth, founder of Muddy Paw Press, called me on the phone and told me he had read half of the novel and he wanted to publish it. I was really caught off guard because no publisher or editor had ever taken the time to actually pick up the phone and call me about anything I’d written. We had a great conversation and, as we talked about the story, it was very clear Tyler understood what I was trying to say. He was a great editor and his feedback really helped make the story better, especially in terms of pacing. He’s been a great partner and I highly encourage all horror writers who don’t have traditional agent representation to give small presses a chance. These indie houses are much more likely to take on stories that don’t fit into the mainstream of what sells and what doesn’t sell. So, a short novel like Father Marlowe probably had a better chance with the indie presses than the traditional big publishers.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been writing and trying to get published for a while, but the hardest part is dealing with the rejection.

For my part, I feel like my career as a newspaper reporter and magazine journalist trained me for the constant rejection from editors, agents and publishers. To be honest, it never really phased me enough to make me think about giving up on a career as a fiction writer. That said, I did, of course, have moments of doubt, especially in the years before I landed my first publishing credit (a short horror story entitled Ghosts of Annapurna, which was published in Ghostlight Magazine around 2010.) They say getting that first writing credit is the toughest nut to crack, and it is, but I just always kind of believed my stories were pretty good and there was an audience out there for them somewhere, I just had to find it.

So, I guess if I have one piece of advice to writers, it would be, if you really love to write, don’t ever give up. The only way you can fail is if you stop writing. And, of course, practice your craft as often as possible by writing on a regular basis and by reading both within and outside of your chosen genre.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

As of today, I’ve published more than a dozen short horror stories, two horror novellas and one horror novel. None of them are connected. That said, the ending of The Strange Nighttime Journey of Father Stephen Marlowe makes it clear that his story is just beginning, and there MAY be more stories to come. I haven’t thought of a new story for Stephen yet, but if there’s one out there for him, I’ll find it and write it.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

I read a lot of different types of fiction and nonfiction. On the fiction side, I tend to read a lot of horror, obviously. I’m a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, William Peter Blatty, Susan Hill, Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, Thomas Ligotti, and Stephen King. On the more contemporary front, I’ve very much enjoyed the books of Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Trembley, Brian Keene, John Langan, and V Castro.

I am also a big fan of fantasy. My favorite all-time book is The Crystal Cave by Lady Mary Stewart, who died a few years ago. That book, more than any other, inspired me to become a fiction writer. Her vivid use of language and innovative re-telling of the Arthurian legend through Merlin’s eyes was captivating. Marion Zimmer Bradley, George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien are also favorites of mine.

I also LOVE good historical fiction – the work of John Jakes (the North & South trilogy), Sharon Kay Penman (Norman, Welsh and Scottish history), Herman Wouk (The Winds of War and War and Remembrance) are among the best historical fiction writers out there.

On the non-fiction front, I read a great deal about American history, especially the Civil War and WWII. Bruce Catton and William Shirer come to mind. I also love the history of baseball, especially the so-called “golden age” of baseball of the 1920s-60s, so Roger Kahn (The Boys of Summer), Doris Kearns Goodwin (Wait Till Next Year) and David Halbestrom, who we just lost as well (Summer of ’49 and October 1964 are two of his best) also sit on my shelf. The history of Negro League baseball has also become a passion of mine, and I have excellent biographies of Satchel Page, Josh Gibson and many other African-American greats who never got to play in the big leagues that I’ve voraciously consumed over the years.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

This is the toughest aspect of getting published. Once your book is out there, it’s incredibly difficult to rise above all the noise and get your book noticed. I’m a digital marketer in my day job, so I know how challenging it can be to make your voice heard.

Most of the success I’ve seen has been in engaging directly with book bloggers and reviewers on social media and finding podcasts that will give indie authors an opportunity to come on their shows and talk about their books. It’s a time consuming and somewhat thankless job, but you have to do it. Book signings are fun and I’ve done a few over the course of my three books getting released. It’s a great way to get out there and talk to readers at local bookstores.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

Not particularly. The thing is, it’s all already been written before. There aren’t really any purely original stories to tell. What makes your story worthwhile is your personal spin on tropes and clichés we’ve all seen countless times before. As a writer, you just have to try and find a way to make those tropes and clichés your own, and you do that, I think, by injecting some of yourself into every story you write. There’s only one you – only one – and that is what makes your stories unique.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I read all of them. Again, maybe my career as a journalist prepared me for harsh feedback, but, in my humble opinion, there is only one appropriate response to a negative review: Thanks for taking the time to read my work. That’s it. The bottom line is this – reviews are subjective and you can’t take it personally. I don’t see any upside to responding to negative reviews. Just move on to the next thing. You’re never going to write something that EVERYONE likes. It’s just not going to happen.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I rarely “wing” it. In most cases, I know the rough outlines of the beginning, middle and ending of my stories. I do often get stuck because I don’t know always know the answer to “and then what happened”, but I just write through it until I get the characters where they need to go.

Do I listen to music while I write? Never. It’s too distracting. I need quiet.

The only quirk I can think of is that, on occasion, I’ll have a glass of whiskey while I write, but those occasions are few and far between.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Again, just don’t ever give up. And write for yourself, not what you think the market wants.

Also, when I was a English Literature and Creative Writing student back in the mid-nineties, I learned pretty quickly that you really have to be judicious about what feedback you listen to when you’re working on something. Again, it’s all incredibly subjective, and the honest to God truth is that there isn’t really anyone out there who knows what you’re trying to say or the best way to say it better than you do. You have to trust your instincts as a writer.

So, when I see writers on social media saying they have a dozen beta readers on their current work in progress, I have to wonder how much true value they get out of that. I have three or four beta readers, people I have known for many years, that I trust, and that’s it. And I don’t even act on all of their feedback. They’re there as a sounding board. That’s it.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I am just about to wrap up a collection of a dozen or so short horror stories (okay, one is actually now heading into novella/novel territory) set just before, during and after the U.S. Civil War. I feel like these are some of the best stories I’ve ever written and I hope they find an audience.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

This is so kind of you! Thank you so very much for giving an indie author like me the chance to pontificate and share my experience with other writers.

Thank you again, Dr. K! You’re wonderful!

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Chris Jones Interview

Chris Jones, author of the Mean Lou Green series of flash fiction

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My pen name is Chris Jones and I’m from Massachusetts USA. Maybe once I become famous I’ll be forced to reveal my true name…

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

I just released the first three volumes of a brand new style of fiction. Each volume has ten separate super-short flash fiction stories about the same characters. This series is called Mean Lou Green: Only Outlaws are Free, and it’s a raucous, untamed Wild West pulp fiction series. It’s only digital right now, but once I have six volumes I’ll release them together in paperback.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Mean Lou Green is a rambling gunslinger who turned to bounty hunting after his family met a grisly end. He’s on a quest to reach the Pacific and dip his dead son’s silver dollar into the salt water to fulfill a promise he made to his wife, but his lifestyle and fears about what comes after that keep him running in circles, jumping from one hair-raising adventure to the next.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

I wrote a scene/story about Lou getting a bullet dug out of his guts without anesthetic by a local sawbones. I did a lot of research about Civil War era medicine and amputations, and that was a horrifying process… Made me thankful to have all my limbs intact!

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Self-publishing. Both because I’m too small at the moment to work through a publisher and because I like to have complete creative freedom over my writing, distribution, marketing, and everything else… Especially since my work isn’t exactly PC or made for the masses.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Writing consistently every day. A quote by Faulkner I always keep in mind is: “I only write when I’m inspired. Luckily, inspiration hits at 9am sharp every morning.”

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’ll be writing in all different settings and genres so the series will be disconnected, but I’ll be writing many volumes in each series. I want my readers to know that whether it’s cowboys, pirates, Vikings, or knights, they’re in for an action-packed fun ride.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Robert E. Howard’s Conan is a huge inspiration. Raymond Chandler’s pulp novels are the best and set the standard for my style. It’s a bit cliché, but I didn’t decide to become a writer… I’ve actually run from it my whole life, but I’ve always known since I wrote my first story about sea-raiders ransacking a medieval village when I was around eight or nine that it was what I was born to do. I wrestle back and forth with it, but in the end, it feels like my inescapable fate.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I’ll let you know once I’m a bestseller 😉

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t like long, difficult writing that I have to slog through. I quoted Faulkner earlier, but his books are actually the worst I’ve ever (not) read. I like fast, fun, and easy. If I wanted verbose intellectual meanderings and cumbersome vocab (like that) I’d read a textbook instead.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

Yes, the negative ones are actually the most valuable, especially if they’re from someone you know. I’ve made enormous improvements in my writing after getting negative feedback. Positive feedback is a little hit of pleasure, but negative feedback is a GOLDMINE.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I’ve tried plotting and failed… Tried again and again, failed… I can’t do it. It’s not how my brain works. That’s why I’m developing a completely new style of fiction around the way I write. I get a quick idea, then I sit down and hammer away at the keyboard while the story tells itself in my head. I never plan events, endings, characters, nothing. I just let the story unfold in my mind and try to put it down accurately on paper. I think that’s what gives my writing such a light and wild feel. I rarely go back and edit storylines, rarely spend much time polishing. I let the story tell itself. I’ll never write a Game of Thrones, and that’s just fine by me!

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

I think it’s crucial to prioritize execution and not try to be the next Cormac McCarthy. Writers often get caught up in trying to put out some grand Shakespearean masterpiece and agonize over every little detail, and 9/10 times it never even gets released. I try to live by the Pareto Principle and focus on action, speed, and RELEASING my work, even if it’s only 80% perfect. There will be plenty of time later to edit and release second editions. An imperfect work that gets released is infinitely better than a “masterpiece” that you never hit the Send button on. You’ll keep learning and improving as long as you’re releasing and getting feedback, and eventually the masterpieces will flow out effortlessly. Everything is all about just building up that momentum and never letting it die.

To put it very bluntly: Perfectionists never get anything DONE.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I’m slamming out as many of these short volumes as I possibly can, across all different settings and genres. I’m starting a new pirate series now. Adventure and conquest on the high seas. I plan to completely revolutionize the modern fiction and entertainment industry and bring back the epic, fun, heroic tales from the 20th century, in a format specifically designed for modern readers who are losing their taste (and attention spans) for long-form.

I’ll soon be bringing on other writers, as well as artists and designers and storytellers of all kinds. Together we will spearhead a new era of entertainment and make fiction great again.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

Right now I’m most active on Instagram as I’m growing my new business. I post lots of art and cool graphics that I like to create an awesome and aesthetic atmosphere on my page.

You can check out my work at my website. It goes to my Gumroad store for now, where you can download my various flash-fiction volumes for dirt cheap. Mean Lou Green Vol. 1 is FREE, so anyone can check it out and see if they dig my style. They’re formatted super clean for mobile, PC, or e-reader so you’ll be able to read them easily.

You can also snag the first three volumes of Mean Lou Green on Amazon (Kindle only). Each volume is $1 on Amazon since I can’t make it free there.

So if you like lightning-fast stories, high adventure, and pulse-pounding action, then strap in for a wild ride with Chris Jones Pulp Fiction Empire.

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Kerry E.B. Black Interview

Kerry E.B. Black, author of Spring of Spirits, Carousel of Nightmares, and other short stories

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Hi. And thank you for conducting these interviews! My name is Kerry E.B. Black, and I am a writer living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA USA.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My most recently published book is a YA paranormal thriller called Spring of Spirits. It’s the second in a series that follows Casey, a shy college freshman at Ol’NorEastern U, where an Autumn Equinox awakening ceremony changed the participants in subtle ways – and might have released something murderous.

The main character, Casey, bears a lot of burdens. Her home life leaves much to be desired, yet she does all she can to help there. She works and attends school. She’s a hard worker who also faced mental health issues. She’s someone to admire, truly.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

How she came about? I have many friends in different special needs communities. They’ve served as partial models for Casey.

Later this year. I’m releasing a book of scary poetry called Poetic Nightmares (my already released collections of short scares are named Carousel of Nightmares, Herd of Mightmares, and Fairy Herds and Mythscapes). I adore reading and writing short fiction, with its encapsulated experiences. Often in my busy life, I haven’t enough time. So I appreciate intoxicating, brief interludes.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

I’m working on a novella that’s stymied me because I dread the latest scene. It’s set in the ambiguous past, when midwives and herbalists we’re persecuted as witches. This particular herbalist lead character has cerebral palsy – and a surprising relationship with another character in the story. I hope to finish it before the end of the year.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

I work with a dear woman named Deb Sanchez at Tree Shadow Press to publish most of my work. She’s a one woman hybrid press dynamo, and I love her!

Terry M. West curates a magazine called Weirdsmith, and I was honored to be a featured author for his volume five. Those two stories remain the goriest I’ve ever written. Otherwise, a number of amazing lit mags and anthologies have kindly published some of my stories.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Imposter Syndrome cripples. It kept me from writing for far too long. Life’s short, and tomorrow is not promised, or so common sense tells us. So, write if you want to, tell stories and leave a mark. Not everyone will enjoy your work, but don’t allow that to stop you. Write what you enjoy.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Good question. Many of my stories come from a shared universe. I sometimes have a character in a story refer to another character or experience from a different story, so although the stories stand alone, they often contain “Easter Eggs.”

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Some of my favorite authors include C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Grady Hendrix, Gwendolyn Kiste, Edgar A. Poe, Holly Black, and Cynthia Pelayo. But there are so many more! I think my mom inspired me to write. I started early with ghost stories I’d write and illustrate and share with underclassmen at my elementary school. Through writing, I am marginally more eloquent than my normal, tongue-tied and awkward self.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I am not sure about the best way to market my books. My Twitter following is largest, but I think I have more actual engagement on Instagram.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I am not a fan of erotica or extreme gore.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I do read reviews and try to look at anything negative constructively. That’s not to say it doesn’t sting, but I try to turn it into a learning experience. As Hemingway explained, we’re all learning as we go. There’s something magical about always striving to be better.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I always know the beginning and the end of my stories. The action has to progress toward that conclusion. For longer works, I know plot points that must be reached. The business of getting there is often something of a mystery to me, though.

I don’t usually pay attention to the world around me when I write. I tune everything out by necessity, I suppose. My house is tiny and overly populated, and thus noisy and distracting.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Join writing groups. Support your fellow writers and listen to their suggestions about your writing. Objective opinions are invaluable.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I am always writing. Even when I don’t write things down, my mind seizes and elaborates on ideas. I’ve that novella to complete. I use submission calls for publications I admire as muses for short works. I write a drabble weekly for https://www.carrotranch.com.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

Thank you again for conducting this interview! I’ve boosted your offer of interviews on my Instagram (where I discovered it.)

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Lynda McKinney Lambert Interview

Lynda McKinney Lambert, author of Songs for the Pilgrimage, First Snow, and others

– First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Lynda McKinney Lambert, Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. I am a retired professor of Fine Art and Humanities, Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA. I retired in 2007, after sight loss. I am currently writing full time, now that I am retired from my teaching career at the college. I balance my days between writing and making art in my studio though the use of adaptive technologies for the blind.

Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My newest book is Songs for the Pilgrimage (DLD Books, 2021). This is a collection of poetry, journal entries, reflections, and non-fiction memoirs. The work in this book spans a period of writing from 1988 to 2021. I began writing poetry while working on My BFA degree in painting in the mid to late 80s.

Eventually, I spent an entire year in 2020 reading through my journals from 1988 to 2020. I developed this book over the year of exploring my art and writing history through my journals and memories. Themes are travel, dance, music, art, history, nature, faith

Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Three of my five published books were created by DLD Books, Denver, Colorado. The three books edited and designed by this team are:

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, 2017
Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, 2019
Songs for the Pilgrimage, 2021.

My chapbook, First Snow, was published by Finishing Line Press and is a collection of thirty wintry-themed poems, 2020.

My first book is Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press, 2002).

– What would you say is the most challenging part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

My writing journey evolved naturally because I earned three degrees in Fine Art and English. My academic work was at different universities over eleven years, Writing papers and doing research is a significant part of that training. I loved writing about art, artists, art history, poetry, and poets.

As for advice, I’d say to cultivate patience. Never be in a rush to get your book done. Instead, allow the manuscript and your thoughts to mature during the writing process. Keep in mind that you want your collection of writings to be a cohesive body of work. I think of this as a work of art because it is art.

– What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

As I worked on my MA in English degree, my focus was poetry. My final project was focused on three poets who wrote during three different periods: John Donne, Willian Carlos Williams, Robert Bly,

I also studied the beat poets and abstract expressionist artists. My favorite art is German Expressionism and American Abstract Expressionists.

– Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I don’t read reviews very often. I think the best reviews are by editors who specialize in non-fiction and poetry. I appreciate the honest and thoughtful consideration by people who have read my books. Unfortunately, negative remarks are typically left by people who are not knowledgeable about non-fiction, memoir, or art.

– What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I write a blog, Walking by Inner Vision. I published articles three mornings a week at 7 a.m. Monday is “Poem: From the Professor’s Journal.” That is a poem and the backstory of the poem Wednesday is “Garden Songs,” my little poems inspired by my gardens and nature. Friday is “The Evergreen Journal,” a series of memoirs. I’ll do fifty for this year. I think these will be collected and turned into a book in 2023.

– Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

I invite visitors to stop by and let me know what you think about any comments or advice I have offered on this interview. Thank you for this opportunity to share my writing life with all of you today.

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: John Ryland Interview

John Ryland, author of Peripheral, The Man With No Eyes, Souls Harbor, and more

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is John Ryland. I like to write short stories and novels that tend to hang out in the dark corners of society where weird stuff happens.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My latest novel is Peripheral, a horror thriller about a young woman who finds herself in a shadow world after hitting her head in a fall. Aided by a young girl she’s seen all her life and thought a ghost, she learns that she was dragged into this side world known as the Peripheral that exists at the fringes of our world in an eternal state of limbo. Time passes, but its inhabitants never sleep, eat, or enjoy any aspects of their old selves. The demon that drug her to this place did so to enjoy all the vices that our world has to offer, ie: drugs, alcohol, sex, and even good food. Unfortunately, they do this to excess and eventually ruin the physical body. Now she must find a way to regain her body and defeat the powerful, centuries-old demon before it’s too late.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Camille powers is a stay at home wife and enjoys her life. She is tenacious, strong, and adaptable. Unfortunately, she is also stubborn and takes too many chances, especially with the demon.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

The hardest scene to write in Peripheral was the confrontation when the demon (who possesses Camille’s body) attacks her husband, Bo. Hopelessly outgunned, Bo gets the hell beaten out of him when he stands up to the demon, but also must endure a powerful psychological battle between who he sees as his wife, but knows she is a demon. Getting the fear, anger, desperation, and pain just right took several rewrites.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Peripheral and another novel (The Man with No Eyes) were traditionally published, but I did self-publish two novels and a collection of short stories prior to their publication. For me, there have been good and bad on each track.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

I think one of the most difficult things to get used to are rejections and the disappointment that comes with them. I’ve had hundreds of rejections and they still hurt, but not as much. The best advice I could give is twofold. Write what you want to write. It’s your book. If everyone wrote like the authors who are successful now, nothing new would ever happen. Even the “greats” were unknown authors once upon a time. The back half of that is to never give up. Never give up honing your craft, and never give up pushing it into the faces of publishers, agents, and readers. If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

All of my books are stand-alone novels, but like others authors, most take place in a fictitious county in Alabama.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Being from the south, I was enthralled by southern writers like Capote, Harper Lee, Hemingway, and such. It made me think that some kid from Alabama might have a chance. I read To Kill A Mockingbird in seventh grade and fell in love with the idea of books set in the south.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

The best way to advertise books is always a mystery. I’ve run ads and promotions with mixed results. I think connecting with people helps sell books. You’re selling yourself as much as the book.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t like the “it was all a dream” troupe. I think a writer employs it as a last result when they’ve written themselves into a corner and can’t come up with an ending. Personally, one of my favorites is just to leave people hanging. It is what it is. People can then build their own conclusion in their minds, plus it leaves the door open for a possible sequel.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I always read reviews, but sometimes wish I didn’t. I realize that it’s a person’s opinion, but sometimes I think they miss the premise of the book. I usually brood about bad reviews for a day or so then I dismiss them. People have a right to not like my work. I realize it’s not for everyone. I like to come up with original plots, sometimes that is hard for people to grasp, thus, they miss some of the larger themes.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I prefer to “wing it”. I’m 100% pantser. The story unfolds before me like a road, and I follow it. I have a general feel for what I want, but the characters run the show. Of course, this sometimes requires a lot of work on the first pass to smooth plot holes etc. but it’s fun to write. It’s like reading a book while also writing a book. When I’m working and it’s going good, all I need is a keyboard and my reading glasses. I don’t need music, silence, or anything. Actually, I wrote my first published novel, Souls Harbor, sitting at the dining room table while kids played and watched TV. Now I have an office and a desk, but the kids and the dog still come in and visit.

13. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Up next is a long novella entitled The Unkindness of Ravens, which should be out this fall. It’s the story of an emotionally troubled young girl who follows a raven into the woods and finds the dead body of a kid. one of the tag lines I’ve been using is: “It’s not exactly finders’ keepers, but it’s not completely different either.”

14. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

You can find all my buy links, sign up for my blog and monthly newsletters, see all the newest details, and check out poetry corner on my website.

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Sean Stevens Interview

Sean Stevens author of The Gift of Life III and various other poetry

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Sean Stevens. Worcester, Massachusetts.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

The Gift Of Life III is a poetry book. I have self-published four books in total with my fifth book coming out on October 4th.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

My poetry covers a range of topics including mental health, nature, love and much more.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

The hardest part of my books is really connecting with the reader. As a poet I want to generate emotions with my words. This can be difficult at times.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

I chose to self publish to maintain my creative integrity. I work with poetry editors who critique me more than I feel a traditional publisher would.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Marketing. Having a concise strategy of tactics can be very daunting at times. My suggestion to other writers is to be true to yourself, find your niche and most importantly generate an audience prior to publishing.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

My Gift Of Life series plays off of each other. My other books are stand alone. I find connecting a series a books creates interest especially if the reader can read the books in succession.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Robert Frost is by far my favorite author. I first read his work in Elementary school. He inspired me with his love for nature. I took that with me and to this day Immerse myself in nature.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

So far Twitter has been my most successful avenue. With Covid protocols the last few years its been tough getting out to do book signings and in person promotions.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I like originality. For example, the number of vampire books I come across is amazing. I’m sure each one of them could be amazing but I like to think outside the box.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I do. I have received all good reviews of my work until recently when I received a one-star review. Sadly, they didn’t leave any comments. I do believe that honest reviews are important. What better way to improve your craft than by accepting constructive criticism.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I have a glass of wine before I write. I also write exclusively at nighttime as that’s when I feel most inspired. I do occasionally listen to music while I write. Most of the music I listen to has a poetry theme such as Jim Morrison or Bob Dylan.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

The best advice I received was to attack your audience. Find out where they are so you can connect with them and create a fan base. This is very important to be successful when self-publishing.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I am currently working on an autobiography that is set to be released next year. I may send out queries and go the traditional route here.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Christopher Robertson Interview

Christopher Robertson, author of The Cotton Candy Massacre, The October Society, and many more

– First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is Christopher Robertson, I go by Kit to my friends or Trash Panda to my best frenemy. I’m from Glasgow, Scotland.

Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

The Cotton Candy Massacre is a scuzzy love letter to 80s splatterpunk horror movies. It’s the third book in my Teen Horror trilogy of loosely connected novels, and the fourth under my TerrorScope brand.

– Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

The Cotton Candy Massacre has several characters who fight for the lead spot. There’s Leigh, who wants to cheer her best friend Candy up after a painful breakup. She’s foul-mouthed, brash, and badass but that’s all because, deep down, she’s afraid of losing more people she loves. Keeping them at a distance and defecting hurts less in the long run. Then there’s Rocky, Candy’s cheating ex who wants one last shot to prove he’s not a bad guy and win Candy back. This takes them all to Bonkin’s Bonanza, a carnival with a dark past.

– What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

There’s a few scenes with a lot of moving parts that we’re a technical challenge. The hardest had to be the beginning of the final act, without spoiling the content I’ve never written anything like that before.

Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Self. My work is a hard sell to a traditional pub and I like the control I have over my universe.

– What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Getting eyes on the book. That’s why stuff like this is so important.

– Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

It’s all connected for me, and building to something.

– What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

I love the way Joe R. Lansdale spins his stories. R.L. Stine got me into this and Carlton Mellick III showed me there is a space for weirdos like me.

– What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

Getting involved with reading groups has done wonders for me. And making friends, and collaborating with other indie authors.

– Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

If it’s something I can work on I take it in, if it’s my style or vibe in general then there’s not a lot you can do about that. It’s not easy, putting yourself out there like we do and there are times it hurts. But I cant seem to stop.

– What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I never plan anymore; it’s all done as I go feeling the story and seeing what the characters get up to. I make playlists for each book, like a soundtrack, and I also like ambient music related to my current project. For instance, anyone walking my by flat might hear some noir infused 1940s jazz right now.

– What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Just write. Don’t talk about it, just do it. You can tell the world when it’s done.

– What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

I have two novels in the works that are still to be announced. Next up is The October Society Season Two – the second book in my spooky YA Halloween series

– Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Alyanna Poe Interview

Alyanna Poe, author of Rejects, Eaten, and many more

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Hello! I’m horror author Alyanna Poe. I’ve been a resident of Northern California my entire life, and I’ve been writing since I can remember. In sixth grade I received my first publication in American Poetry Digest 2013 for my haiku titled Nighttime. I think this sparked more of an interest in writing, and a later fascination with Stephen King’s The Stand prompted me to start writing my first full length novel when I was fourteen. I’m twenty-one now and have four horror books self-published, including the title I started when I was fourteen.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My most recent publication is a self-published collection of short stories. I publish one on my birthday every year! Well, starting when I turned twenty, so I only have two so far, but I’m already working on the third!  Rejects is a collection of twenty-one short horror stories that have all been rejected by presses and publishers. I was hoping to use this publication to inspire other authors to take their work into their own hands. A rejection isn’t the end!

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Many of the main characters in Rejects deal with facing their identity, something that I frequently deal with. Some are faced with a new reality, some are punished for their actions, and some even meet their fate. 

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

Honestly, the hardest scene to write was in my current WIP. The main character, Abigail, writes a letter to her brother after he’d been murdered. Half of the letter are things I would have liked to have said to my half-brother before he passed. I don’t think I’ve cried while writing a project as much as I did while writing Adam’s Murder. The entire project brought up feelings I never worked through, and I think I was finally able to grieve.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

I’ve always self-published. I tried to publish my first book traditionally, but no one wanted it. Reading it now, I see its flaws, but some constructive criticism gave me the confidence to self-publish. I currently have a project titled Home that I’m working on traditionally publishing. Let’s hope I can get past the querying process!

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Burn out. I’ll go through two weeks or more of burn out at a time, and the only thing that has helped is drowning myself in media. Reading, watching TV and movies, finding new musicians to listen to. I think of creativity like a battery, and sometimes it needs to be refilled. Another great way is to find another medium temporarily. I like to draw, paint, or edit photos in the times words won’t come to me.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I want each book to be entirely different, besides the series of course. Occasionally I’ll add Easter eggs, but I want each story to make the reader question if this is the same author that wrote this other book. I don’t want people to read multiple of my books and think, “Jeez, this is just like the last book I read by her.”

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

Stephen King. Stephen King. Stephen King. Yeah, he’s the go to, but that’s because he’s awesome! Reading The Stand when I was thirteen really opened my eyes to adult horror and apocalyptic horror, eventually inspiring Eaten, my first novel. I’ve always loved writing, and used to write stories as a kid. I think getting diagnosed with Graves’ disease at sixteen made me rethink my options career wise, as I was on track to working for the sheriff’s department, but I couldn’t be more thankful to have had this opportunity to meet these amazing artists and authors. Someday I hope to make this into a paying job that helps others.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I don’t know if it’s the best, but my favorite way has been Facebook Marketplace. I sell signed copies locally, and I love meeting people in my area. They’ve all been so supportive.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t think I’ve run into anything I don’t like besides the damsel in distress. As a very independent woman, it’s aggravating to see a woman, who could easily get out of the situation, being saved, and I think it’s used a lot to introduce a romantic relationship.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I do! And, honestly, I wrote an article on my blog about a few ways to deal with negative reviews! I love using constructive criticism to improve my writing, but as most one-star reviews don’t include that, if all they have to say is that the book was bad, I either ignore it or make it into an ad. “See why AmazonReader1 didn’t like my book!” You can’t please everyone, don’t try to. When I started getting haters, I realized that I must be doing something good.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

Oh, boy. I used to go by the seat of my pants, but I’ve been working on increasing how many books I write per year. I haven’t done it yet, but based on my last project, I figure I can write a book in two months without pushing myself too hard. In order to get this done, I do have to plot it out entirely, so rather than from A to Z, I have A to B, B to C, etc. I usually listen to music while writing, or sometimes I’ve got the TV on in the background. Unless I need to focus *really* hard, silence isn’t my vibe. I think the quirkiest thing about me is my million lists. I write a list for everything. To-do list, progress list, plot list, project list, feature list, idea list, content list. It goes on and on, and I have so many notebooks, too. It’s ridiculous.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

I guess to just keep going. That’s what everyone says when I have my doubts, and that’s what I’ve got to say to other authors. It’s difficult to keep going when you feel like nothing is working. I hope that one day you’ll have that revelation that it is all worth it.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Oh, yeah. Editing a manuscript that I’ll be reading for my podcast Indicted Fiction. Plotting out my NaNoWriMo 2022 project. Querying my novella Home to agents. Submitting short stories here and there as well as compiling my short story collection for February of 2023. I also randomly started a poetry collection themed around death but I’m not sure when that’ll be completed. Not to mention I’ll be narrating Adam’s Body for my podcast myself, and I’ve never edited sound before so it’ll be quite the project. I do artsy stuff as well, like painting, promo creation, photo editing, and uploading designs to my RedBubble store, so there’s always something to work on.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

Author’s Spotlight: Samuel M. Hallam Interview

Samuel M. Hallam, author of Haunted Souls

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is Samuel M. Hallam and I am originally from Lincolnshire in the U.K.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

My recent work is called Haunted Souls and is my debut novel. It’s the second piece I’ve had published (I had a short called All Hail The Coral Queen! which was picked up in May 2022). It’s a ghost story of sorts and plays into the classic tropes of ghosts and haunted houses, covering centuries of history and horror, all centred around a manor house, flitting between 1995 and 2018, and the years prior.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

The main character in Haunted Souls is January Miller. We first meet her as a young girl and as an adult. They are a strong female lead I think and suffered quite a bit. I can’t really remember how they came about. I think I wanted a strong lead character who had an unusual first name to make them stand out. January is a lovely name and is not one you see every day and part of me just clicked with it. In terms of strengths, they are quite a resilient character, determined and curious. Weaknesses – we don’t see a bit of her life, and sometimes I feel I could have explored the missing years.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

Without giving too much away, there were a few hard scenes but one I found really difficult emotionally was a funeral scene. It hit me really hard as I was writing it and I had to watch something funny and light-hearted as I wrote the scene. Sometimes when you write emotionally charged scenes, you need to find something to balance it out.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Self-publishing was my goal the entire time. As much as I might have liked to have approached a traditional publisher over this one, I sort of wanted to stand on my own two feet as it was my debut. I had a bit of help with sorting the Kindle element, but this time it was on my own. I might go the traditional route with future stories.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

The most difficult part for me personally is editing and formatting. I am pretty useless when it came to the Kindle Direct Publishing element so got some help (massive thank you to Aiden Merchant). It’s not the most user-friendly thing in the world and I needed that help. As for advice to others? Have fun and don’t be afraid to explore new worlds. Whether it is short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels or a series then have fun! That and if you have an idea, don’t be afraid to let it run. It could take you in an unexpected, but exciting direction.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Mild spoilers here for Haunted Souls. In Chapter 9, which is set in 1913, we meet Aloysius Benavidez and Grace Harding. There are hints that these two have been together (in a partnership) for a good few years. At the moment, I have plans for a trilogy involving Aloysius and Grace exploring “hauntings” in the U.K. with Aloysius trying to expose them as fake, and Grace being more open to the idea that there really is ghosts. I have the first story’s outline written and I will get round to exploring this world soon. Just wait and see.

As for other connections, I’m not sure. There’s a number of doors that are potentially opened by Haunted Souls. We’ll see.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

In terms of favourite authors, I have a range really. Barker, Herbert, King, Christie, Gaiman… There’s so many household names who I admire and look up to and see how they’ve done it, to try and help build up my own writing skills. But then again, I run the Indie Horror Book Club and I have fund so many great authors via the Book Club and there’s so many great self-published authors out there that I would strongly suggest reading. I’m not going to list them all as we’d be here for a long long time, but there’s so many wonderful self-published/indie authors out there.

In terms of what inspired me to write, I’m not entirely sure. I think from a young age I have always wanted to write and I have sort of rediscovered that love of writing during 2020 onwards.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

I am not sure. I just sort of do weekly posts on Instagram in the lead up to the release of Haunted Souls and try and share people’s posts about it.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I’m not big on cosmological horrors. Sometimes it’s a bit too wordy for me, but there is good authors in that subgenre.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I have been keeping an eye on reviews for Haunted Souls, mostly positive. I’ve been trying to see if there’s recurring faults and anything I could like take forward in terms of my writing.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

I have been called “offbeat” before but I like that. I have a tendency to write major plot outlines. For Haunted Souls I wrote a 2500+ plot outline to help keep me on track. For most novellas and novels I do write major outlines so I can follow the path so to speak and get it all written. I find it helps, and as I go along with the story, I gradually delete the plan.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

There’s a Stephen King quote which I quite like which he tells any potential author to read a lot. Honestly, that one is a good piece of advice. Reading a lot teaches you tips and tricks about how others have done it and how you can do it.

As for my advice, like I said earlier. Have fun and don’t be afraid to explore new worlds.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Like I said earlier, I have the Aloysius and Grace series/trilogy (I need a better title) that I am working on. Aside from that I have four big projects on the horizon. Weathering the Storm is a sort of weather/folk horror/cult/fantasy horror that is my main focus for the moment. It’s a novella and I have a plan for it. Have You Seen This Martian? will be my next novel I think and is a sci-fi/horror story set on Mars in the not so distant future. Tales From the Green Chair is a collection of shorts I have written. Some new, some old, all by me. Then lastly, I have a top-secret project which I can’t say much about but it’s something new, something fun. There’s more to come but that’s major next steps.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

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