Author Q&A – April Higuera

April Higuera is a licensed private investigator, the owner and principal agent of ADH Investigations located in Reno, NV, specializing in criminal defense investigation of violent crimes on county, state, and federal levels. Higuera has a lengthy record of assisting wins for defense in complex criminal cases. Her work has been applauded and recommended by judges, attorneys, colleagues, and clients across the country. Higuera is a contributing writer for various blogs and national publications in her effort to promote public awareness about the essential need for criminal defense investigation in maintaining a balanced justice system. Her new book “Making a Case for Innocence” is receiving rave reviews as “informative,” “evocative,” and a “page-turner.”

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Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I started writing poetry at age 8, songs (lyrics & music) at age 13, writing and performing my songs professionally at age 17, and have continued throughout my life.  I have music playing in the background of multiple television shows and two albums (CDs) online for sale as an artist. I attempted writing books in my mid-40’s and started at least five books, which I’ve never finished. Last year I began, completed, and published my first book at age 54 titled “Making a Case for Innocence: True Stories of a Criminal Defense Investigator.”

Q: Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have a muse? 

A: No muse. My inspiration is my life and work experiences as a criminal defense investigator since 2001.

Q: Tell me about your book, Making a Case for Innocence. Why did you decide to write it?

A: My current book is a series of personal and professional memoirs as I investigate murders and other violent crimes on behalf of the persons charged with the crimes. The book takes the reader along my journey from singer/songwriter to seasoned criminal defense investigator and all the moral and emotional shifts I experienced personally, as well as detailing my investigation work on a handful of very interesting and dramatic criminal cases.

I decided to write Making a Case for Innocence to inform the general public what really goes on in the criminal justice system and how innocent people fall through the cracks of justice on an alarmingly regular basis. I wanted to educate the public about wrongful convictions and how to defend themselves against a sometimes corrupt justice system.

In the book, aside from the general criminal case elements typical of any true crime writing, I detail my experiences finding and interviewing witnesses, the evidence never presented in court, and the family members of the defendant who are never known to the public . . . all confidential information that is typically never divulged outside of a courtroom (though I obtained permission). My accounts are all true.

Q: What do you think the most challenging part of writing a book is? How did you get through it?

A: Editing. Beginning to write a book can also be difficult. I just started with my own story and interspersed fascinating criminal cases I investigated. I hired folks to edit (three people actually).

Q: Are you working on any writing now? If so, what can you tell me about it? 

A: I am writing articles for various media outlets to help raise public awareness about the pitfalls of the criminal justice system, and offer suggestions to help it work as intended. I also write articles on best practices for criminal defense investigation.

My next book is going to be review of wrongful conviction cases from a criminal defense investigation perspective and/or a series of crime stories with the main character being a criminal defense investigator working on fictional cases with real-life issues and investigation tactics . . . I’ve already begun the first book in the series, and I’m in the process of obtaining story rights to for wrongful conviction case reviews and commentary.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: People must care more about people than money. We can all make money doing the right thing.


 

Don’t forget to visit April’s website (click here) and get a copy of her book: “Making a Case for Innocence” !!

Author Q&A- Ian Reading

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Reading. Ian is the author of quite a few books including the Wizards of Waterfire series, The Dragon of the Month Club, and the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series. He is an amazing writer, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. So lets get into it!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start? 

A: I have been writing now for a few years.  Or maybe more accurately I should say that I was writing for a couple of years, starting a few years ago.  In the past 18 months I have not written much, unfortunately, because of being so busy.  (That’s a lame excuse, I know, but I am currently trying to reconfigure my writing process so that the constant stresses of my day job are not interfering with getting books finished.) 

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse? 

A: The thing that inspires me the most to write are the stories themselves – and the characters in them.  When I have an idea in my head and I am excited about it, I just have to see where it’s going to go, I have to see how the story develops.  And that pushes me to actually sit down and write it out. 

Q: What was the original idea behind your book Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold?kittyhawknewcover

A: The original idea behind the first Kitty Hawk book was the character of Kitty Hawk herself.  She was my muse.  I just loved the idea of a teenaged female pilot with her own plane, flying around the world and solving mysteries.  That was the basis for everything that followed and to a great degree because of that the stories just sort of wrote themselves. 

Q: Tell me about Kitty Hawk. What kind of person is she? Is she based off of someone you know?

 A: Kitty Hawk is unlike anyone I know in the entire world, but she is definitely someone I would LIKE to know – and someone I admire and would like to be, in fact.  She is smart and quirky and funny, and best of all she’s a pilot and has her own plane!  For me that is the coolest part about her, by far.  I often imagine her being able to fly up into the mountains and land her trusty De Havilland Beaver seaplane on a lake somewhere, and just be in nature, alone and peaceful.  There is such freedom and potential in that and I love it.

 Q: What other fictional characters do you think Kitty would get along with best? What would they do?

 A: Kitty Hawk would definitely get along well with Nancy Drew.  She is a bit of a Nancy Drew herself.  I think she would also get along great with the lead character in Carl Sagan’s Contact, Ellie.  They are both driven and ambitious and intelligent characters.  But maybe most of all Kitty Hawk would get along with Amelia Earhart (who is real, of course, not fictional).  They are both pilots, after all.  And they both want to fly more than anything else in the world.

Q: Where is the strangest place an idea for the book came to you?

A: Long before I really knew what the plot details of Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold were going to be, I found myself on a whale watching boat off the west coast of North America.  And being a proper naval vessel their radio was constantly tuned to the Coast Guard emergency frequency.  And at one point a Coast Guard bulletin came on calling for planes and vessels to be on the lookout for a missing plane that had taken off but not arrived at its destination.  This was tragic, of course, it could only mean one thing up in the bush pilot parts of the world – but what I remembered about it was the organization of the message, how the Coast Guard followed a specific protocol and structure, and months later that came back to me and found its way into the book.  The same protocol and structure as the Coast Guard called for people to be on the look out for Kitty Hawk’s missing plane.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: I think what I would want most for the world to know (or at least the fans of Kitty Hawk and of the Dragon of the Month Club books) is this:  I am working on the next books in the series.  I promise.


Some more on Kitty Hawk-

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon. 

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves.

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5). Each book can be read as a standalone.

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

About the Author: 

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to http://www.amazon.com/Iain-Reading/e/B00B0NGI6Q/

Connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Author Q&A- Brandy Nacole

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Nacole. Brandy is the author of the Shadow World series and the Spiritual Discord Series. Here is her interview!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start? 
A:  I’ve been writing since I was in the first or second grade. An author had visited our school and I was amazed by his whole presentation. That exact day, I went back to class and wrote my first story about a boy and his pet alligator. My mom still has it. The rest is history. I’ve been writing ever since. 
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse? 
A: Books I read and my dreams inspire me a lot. If I’m having trouble with a certain scene in a book I’m writing, sometimes reading or taking a walk can help twist the ideas the way I need them to be. 
I like to think my Grandma is my muse. Her and I were really when she was alive. We would spend many afternoons sitting out on the porch reading or inside writing notes from the books we’ve read, favorite lines and such. I know she would be proud of all I’ve done, having succeeded in making the dream I had as a child come true. 
Q: Tell me about your book series, The Shadow World and The Spiritual Discord. What inspired them? 
A: The Shadow World series follows the transformation of Racquel, a hybrid living in a purebred world. To say she’s unique, well that’s putting it mild. She has four different supernatural bloodlines coursing through her veins and never knows if she’s going to be sprouting claws or snacking on someone’s neck. It can make for some challenging days. Over the course of the series, we not only get to see Racquel find acceptance with the purebreds as she helps them find a shadowed villian, but also with herself. It’s not until she realizes she’s her biggest critic, that she’s able to let go and be free. 
The idea for the Shadow World came from a dream about Racquel. Her struggle and differences from everyone. It really hit home with a project I was working on with my local community for bullying, but with a twist of Fantasy. Racquel has been bullied her whole life since being a hybrid is forbidden. But once purebreds go missing and the High Council is shown that Racquel may be the only one who can help, she pushed into a world of trying to prove herself, accept herself, and realize that we are all unique in our own way – while also saving the world. She’s pretty badass. 🙂
Currently, the Shadow World series is getting a new look and some update, including a prequel. The whole series will be re-released this winter as a boxset. I’m pretty excited!
Skipping over to the Spiritual Discord series, we dive into a whole new world of fallen angels, vampires, and hellhounds, with a few average humans thrown in the mix. Oh, where to begin with this series… It’s so full of twists and turns, struggles and inner battles. I wanted to capture these thoughts with each of the main characters, so yes, it is a multiple POV novel with a total of 4 narratives. Kayson, the fallen angel who is only trying to prove a point against the universe, including God. Sabrina, who is trying to mind her own business and survive on animal blood, even though it’s lacking. Falon, Alpha of the Hell Hounds, is out to settle a score and prove his ranks in Hell. Then there’s poor Emma. A simple girl, trying to do a simple favor for her mom who is away traveling with her dad, when she’s thrown into the mist of a world she would have rather kept in the dark.
Broken Faith (Book 1) came out after the second in the Shadow World series. I had always wanted to write a fallen angels novel and it wasn’t until a drive home from New York State that got my wheels turning. Funny how a few road signs, stormy clouds, and boredom can get the ole wheels turning. This series has made me mad, sad, happy, and an all about loon, but I love the Fantasy world that has been built among all these different characters and am absolutely dreading the day the last book is released.
Right now, the first 3 books are available with the 4th being released soon!
I also have a standalone novel, Deep in the Hollow, that is based on a real small town legend. Greed has a price, and the dead do not always rest.
Q: Which of your characters would you most like to meet in real life?
A:Good grief, it’s questions like these that make me wish I could split myself in half. The ultimatum comes down between Racquel and Sabrina. I love both these girls. In the end, though, it would be Racquel. There is a part of me that can relate to Racquel, a part that unerstands. I’m not even going to lie and say there wasn’t times Racquel and I were one as I wrote.
Q: If you were thrown into one of the worlds you have created, what would you do?
A: Man, that’s one I haven’t been asked. What would I do? Well, after several panic attacks later, I imagine myself in the fight. I’m not one of those types to sit and be silent, so I like to think I would get right up in the mix of all the action.
Q: What is something you want the world to know? 
A: I want the world to know that we are all unique, just like our fingerprints, and that life affects each one of us differently. I want the world to know that instead of viewing that different as bad, it should be viewed as inspiring, as another art piece in the language of life. There are no rights or wrongs. To give compassion is to receive it. And that’s what I try to express in all my books. Even with all the action, mystery, and romance, there’s compassion and love for one another, for the unique and unusual. Remember this each and everyday. You are: Unique. Loved. Perfect
Find Brandy Online:

Author Q&A- Virginia Franken

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Virginia Franken, the upcoming author of Life After Coffee, which comes out September 13th, 2016. Virginia has always loved writing, but it wasn’t until her first son was born that her writing turned into a serious goal. So, without any  further ado, I give you Virginia Franken’s interview!0311-Final(WEBonly)

Q: How long have you been writing?

A:  I loved writing stories and poems as a kid. I had a very supportive English teacher when I was about nine and she told me that if my dreams of making it as a prima ballerina fell to the wayside (ahem) then I should consider writing for a living! Not long after that, I wrote a poem about the time our fourth grade class had our underwear stolen from the local pool while we were swimming there (bizarre-but-true story) – it got published in the school paper and I was off.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: It’s interesting that I only really started writing with any serious intention toward getting published after my first child was born. So I guess you could say that my son was/is my muse. I think I’d been expecting motherhood to define who I was as a person and cement my place on planet earth amongst the other humanoids. Didn’t work that way, and when I became a mother I was as grasping and confused about life as ever. So when my baby was about six weeks old, I start writing with one almighty burst – three books at once. One was a children’s novel that I showed to almost no one, another was a non-fiction book that I may well finish one day and the third was a memoir about dating in Los Angeles as a single mother. The dating book got a bit of interest from agents – but ultimately I’m glad it didn’t get published as it was too personal a book to be out in the public arena.

Q: Tell me about your upcoming book Life After Coffee! What was the original idea behind it?

A: Life After Coffee is about a globe-trotting coffee buyer, Amy, who loses her job, becomes a stay-at-home mom and finds out that it’s all much harder than it looks. There’s also a movie mogul ex-boyfriend of hers on the horizon, offering her an escape from the brutal reality of her life and she starts to find it’s all a bit tempting…

It’s essential a comic novel, but there are some very tough scenes when Amy’s leaving her kids behind in order to travel for work. This book was inspired by the difficulties I felt after I had my second child and I was dealing with the emotional turmoil of having to return to the office before I was anywhere near ready. I turned to the literary world for some comfort reading and couldn’t find any fiction written about the very specific heartache of my situation. After talking to friends who were going through the same ordeal, I came to realize that a woman can be smart, feminist and excellent at her job but still feel like the very fabric of her soul is being torn in two every morning when she leaves her baby behind for a day at work. There seems to be so little written about this very emotional topic–maybe because the women who are living it are far too busy to write about it as well!

Q: How do you hope Life After Coffee will affect people? How did writing it affect you?

A: I think it would be great if Life After Coffee could inspire some empathy for reluctant working moms. It’s not a PC thing to say, but nevertheless it is a fact that some women LAC coverfind it hard to leave their kids at home every day in order to go to work. Not all women get to choose whether to work or stay at home. And those women who have no choice but to put their kids in daycare and get to the office, haven’t always found their ways into fulfilling careers. More women are flying higher than ever – but for some women, the careers just never got going. Some jobs are just boring ass boring. Some women would prefer to stay at home and raise their kids themselves, some women would prefer to work part-time, some women would prefer not to return to work when their baby is 2 weeks/6 weeks/12 weeks old. But a lot of women in American get no choice. More so than ever women are the breadwinners and we are proud of what we are achieving. But we are also exhausted. We also wish we had more genuine choices about how we spend our day. Proper maternity leave, job-share opportunities, and reliable universal health care that’s not dependent upon employment status. We The Women wish our true voices could be heard, because all we hear right now is: do it harder, be it better, say it nicer, lean in further, but be careful not to lean in so far your forehead hits the floor cause it’s kinda dirty – everyone round here’s too busy working for The Man to have gotten round to mopping it…

Q: If you could sit down for a cup of tea with any author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

A: Probably Mindy Kaling as she’s only down the street from me (well, we live in the same city anyway). But apart from the convenience of not having to travel through time or space to meet her – I think she’s just a truly brilliant comic writer. And besides, two minutes in we’d be laughing so hard that tea would suddenly seem way too formal so we’d just move onto a nice bottle of chilled white. And then after a couple of glasses of that we’d suddenly realize we were totally hungry and we’d probably get an Uber out to Malibu and go to this amazing fish and chips place I know. Then we’d strip down to our swimwear that would spontaneously appear under our cute outfits and run in and out of the waves all evening with the dolphins. I’ve no idea what specifics we’d talk about, but I know that whatever they were-they would be awesome. It really would be a magical day! Wanna come with?

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That if you really close your eyes, open your heart and do your best to understand where someone else is coming from…there’s every chance they’ll try just as hard to understand you.


Thank you so much for being here, Virginia! I loved your answers and YES! Yes I want to come with you and Mindy!!!

Don’t forget to check out Life After Coffee and order it! It is not a book you are going to want to miss! See it on Amazon here.

 

Author Q&A- Brian Herberger

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Herberger, the wonderful author of Miss E. For those of you who missed it, I read Miss E. (and totally loved it!!!). You can check out my review of the book here! Miss E. is a must read for anyone who loves Historical Fiction.

Anywayy… here is my interview with Brian Herberger!herberger_meet_the_author

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I always liked writing in high school and college, and I worked on a couple other YA novels but they were never finished.  I was a middle school English teacher for about ten years, and I definitely enjoyed working with students on their writing and getting to read what they wrote.  Some incredibly creative and fun stuff.  I still work for a school system, but not teaching, I’m working with technology and data… which can still be sort of creative, but not much writing involved other than email.  So when I sat down to write Miss E., the book became a great creative outlet, and I always looked forward to working on it.

Q: What inspired you to write? Do you have a muse?
 
A: I get inspired by a lot of things.  I’m fortunate enough to have great family and friends, and two kids who are constantly impressing me with their creativity and questions.  They inspire me every day.  Even something as unimportant as a Facebook post makes me want to wordsmith and get things just right.  There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from choosing just the right words, and knowing that when someone reads what you’ve written, they’re going to think and feel the same things you did.  
 
Something that really inspired me while I was writing Miss E. was simply the idea of standing up for something you believe in.  I’ve always been fascinated by the 60’s and people organizing and demonstrating against a war that they felt was wrong.  I was born too late I guess because I missed all that.  I did drive a VW bug around the little town I grew up in outside of Buffalo, New York.   I’d taped a “NO WAR” sign in the back window and felt pretty good about speaking my two cents.
 
I also did a lot of research for the character of Miss E.  She is based on an amazing woman, who I knew surprisingly little about before I started working on the book.  I really enjoyed the research and the chance to learn more about her.  I’m trying to avoid a spoiler, so I won’t say too much, but I guess if I had to pick a muse, it would be her.  
 
Q: Tell me about your novel, Miss E. What was the original idea behind it?
 
A: Miss E. takes place in 1967 California.  Bets is the main character.  She’s moved to a new town, just started high school, and her father has left for the war in Vietnam.  She gets tangled up in an anti-war demonstration, and struggles with her feelings toward the war – wanting to support her father but also beginning to see how wrong the war is.  While all that is happening, Bets ends up meeting Miss E. – a woman who lives outside of town and keeps to herself.  No one really knows much about her, but Bets eventually figures out who she really is.  OK, no spoilers, right?  I’ll just say that Miss E. is a real person from American history.
And how I got the original idea?  One of my favorite writing stories is the one J K Rowling tells about getting the idea for Harry Potter.  Not that I’m comparing myself to her or anything, but it’s a cool story.  She was riding a train and suddenly had the idea – “Boy is a wizard, doesn’t know it, goes to wizard school.”  And the way she describes it, the idea was just out there and the train went right through it and she happened to be there to catch it.  I was driving home from work on a Friday afternoon, and suddenly got an idea – “A girl meets [blank]”  Read Miss E. and fill in the blank.  I got goosebumps!  I started asking all sorts of questions.  Where does she meet her?  How does she find her?  What would it be like to meet her?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that I didn’t just want the story to be about this girl finding [blank].  I wanted the girl to have a story of her own.  When I settled on the time period, it made sense to include Vietnam in the story, with her father in the war and Bets getting involved in demonstrations.
Q: Are you working on any writing projects now? If so, what can you tell me about them?
A: I am!  I just started writing something new a few weeks ago.  At first I was working on an idea for another story similar to Miss E. where a young character meets a historical person, someone with a little mystery around him, where no one else in town really knows who he is.  I’m excited about the idea, but before I dug into that story I realized I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Bets yet.  I really fell in love with all the characters when I was writing Miss E.  It’s amazing how that happens.  Maybe some writers plan everything out and know exactly what their characters are going to be like before they start writing.  Not me.  I think my way’s much more fun!  I had some idea of what I wanted them to be like, but then you put them into a part of the story and they do something surprising or say something new, and you get to know them a little bit more.  It’s really like meeting someone for the first time and then gradually growing closer and closer to them as you get to know them better.  So I’m really excited to be writing another book about Bets.
 
People have asked about a sequel to Miss E., and at first I didn’t really think that was an option. Things are pretty wrapped up at the end of the book.  But I realized there’s still a lot more to Bets’ story, even if Miss E. is no longer a part of it.  We left Bets in 1967, but the war’s still going on, there’s still a lot happening in our country, and she’s still figuring out high school.  The next book is going to take place two years later, and a lot has changed for Bets.  There’s another adventure coming her way, and thankfully, Emmie is part of it.  I’m pretty excited to be writing about Emmie again too!
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: Wow.  That’s a pretty important question.  Something I want the whole world to know?  I feel like it should be something serious like world peace or global warming. I guess when it comes to books, the former English teacher in me just wants people to find something to read that inspires them or affects them in some way.  That’s my measure of success. I’ve discovered that Miss E. is a story that affects generations, young and old.  I heard from a middle school student whose father was in the military and she connected with that part of the story, with Bets saying goodbye, missing her father, and wanting him to come home safely.  I heard from an older gentleman, who was a college professor in the 60’s.  He remembers protests, tear gas lingering on bushes days later.  So he was affected in an entirely different way.  That’s what I look for when I sit down with a book. Is this book making me think, prompting me to ask questions or see things differently?  Can I connect to the characters and story in some way?  Well, it also helps if it’s a good story and it’s fun to read!  If Miss E. does any of that for a reader, then I’ve done something right!
Find Brian Online:

 

 

 

Book Blogger Blind Date

A few weeks ago, Jillian over at Rant and Rave about Books proposed a Book Blogger Blind Date. Basically what that means is book bloggers could be signed up (via google docs form) and then based on the answers we gave, she would pair us up to do interviews with each other and get to know each other.

I happed to love the idea, so I signed up!

I got paired with a wonderful blogger named Ashley. She blogs at Inside my Minds. We decided to ask each other some random questions that require some thinking to answer. Over all we had a great time! Below are the questions I asked and her answers!

 


Q: How do you choose new books to read? What is the strangest way you have found a book you love?

A: I watch a lot of BookTube and from those videos if I see a book that seems interesting, I’ll go to the Barnes and Noble website and read the synopsis.  I’ll also look up the ratings and read reviews on Goodreads.  I know this might seem like a boring answer, but I haven’t found any books that I love in strange ways.

Q: Do you prefer hard copy books or eBooks? How strongly do you feel about your preference?

A: I’m 50/50 when it comes to hard copies and eBooks.  I love how hardcovers and paperbacks feel in my hands, but I love the convenience of my Nook.  For a really long time I was reluctant to get an eReader, however now that I have one, I really love it.

Q: If you could assemble a team of 3 book characters to be stranded on an island with, who would they be and why?

A: Harry, Luna and Hermione because Harry and Luna have the DATD skills and Hermione has the book smarts.  Plus, Harry can always summon his broom too!

Q: If you were the main character in a book, what kind of book would it be and what challenges would you face?

A: It’s a toss up between Harry Potter and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I would want to face the same things the main characters did, just to experience them for myself.

Q: What would you do if you found out that you are actually a character in a book and our reality isn’t real?

A: I’ve been mulling over this question for a while, and this is one question that I don’t have an answer for.


A

Ashley also gave me a short list of random facts about herself! Here they are:

  1. I’m a Bostonian
  2. Baseball is my favorite sport to watch
  3. The Red Sox are my favorite team
  4. I did gymnastics for eight years, and competed for six and a half
  5. My favorite book to movie adaptations are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  6. I’m definitely a PotterHead
  7. I’m part Greek and yes I know how to make Baklava
  8. I’ve always been a reader
  9. I still shop in the kids department and I’m 28 years old, but I’m also 4’11…
  10. I love yoga and I use the Fit Star Yoga app
  11. Lilacs are my favorite flower
  12. I come from a big family so I’m family orientated
  13. I’m lactose intolerant, and yes I can still have some dairy
  14. The MLB All-Star Game is my favorite to watch, because the outcome of the game actually means something.
  15. I don’t eat seafood

I want to thank Jillian again for organizing such a fun event! I had a great time getting to know Ashley, and I hope we can do it again some day!

Head on over to Ashley’s blog, Inside my Heads, to check out my interview!

Author Q&A- Zee Monodee

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Zee Monodee, an author, editor, smitten wife, in-over-her-head mum to a teen boy, best-buddy stepmum to a young adult lad, bookaholic, lover of all things fluffy & pink, chronic shoeholic, and incompetent housewife desperate to channel Nigella Lawson (and who’ll prolly always fail at making domestic goddess status)…  

Zee hails from the multicultural, rainbow-nation island of Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, where she grew up on the figurative fence—one side had her ancestors’ Indian and Muslim culture; the other had modernity and the global village. When one day she realised she could dip her toes into both sides without losing her integrity, she found her identity. Read the interview below!

Walking cover

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Actively, I would say 11 years now going on 12. Around the time I picked up the pen (or should I say the keyboard…?), I had just been diagnosed with aggressive malignant breast cancer, and I had just turned 22. I was on hiatus from my corporate job as an after-sales departmental coordinator given how I’d had a baby twenty months earlier and I wanted to be home with him until he’d enter preschool at 3. But ever since I was in school, I dreamed of being a writer. For my language essays, I would write stories that resembled synopses to romance novels. So met with death staring right at me, and the wake-up call of my own mortality, I knew something would have to give. I knew ‘one day’ I would write, but how about if we made ‘one day’ now, as my husband told me back then? I thus started writing, finding my footing, my voice, my genre, my calling in a way, and I fumbled around for close to 6 years afterwards, still writing, but just not confidently enough. For example, I was ‘hiding’ behind pen names when I could very easily have used my own name; the people in my life were pushing me to write sexy and nothing but… But I reckoned that wasn’t me – I’m a pink floss and fluff kinda gal, and I like this touch of lightness in my stories. Plus I wanted something to make my stories ‘mine’, and for me, that became my setting, for which I utilized my native island, Mauritius.

At the end of these 6 years, I was glad to have found myself through my writing, and I came away from the pen names and established my brand as Zee Monodee. Haven’t looked back ever since! J

 

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: No muse – they’re fickle biatches, most of the time, innit? LOL. No, I just rely on imagination. Like, I grew up watching soapies with my mother. Dynasty, Dallas, Coronation Street, Eastenders, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless – you name it, and we’ve most probably watched it. And I was always imagining side stories for the characters – as in, what if he/she had met this person or that person at that point in their lives? How would the narrative be different? I still do this to TV shows today, I’ll admit, adding ‘new’ characters of my own making complete with a full backstory and everything to the tale inside my head.

Basically, I use this ‘what if’ propensity of mine to come up with stories. Something sparks an idea, and the rest develops from there. For example, I have an ongoing series titled The Daimsbury Chronicles. It is set in the eponymous fictional village of Daimsbury in Surrey. I never started this as a series. I wanted to tell a story of a cancer patient and the rich and totally unlikely man to fall for her, and I needed a setting – so why not a small village in Surrey? I was all set to write their story and be done with it, but in developing their tale, I ‘met’ other people in this location, and of course, the ‘what if’ kicked in…so much so that the series has 12 books lined up in it, and I’m still not sure more might not be coming to this list. I just meet ‘people’ and feel I need to tell their story, and I roll with that.

 

Q: Tell me about your novel, Walking The Edge. What was the original idea behind it?

A: It started with an impression of déjà vu. I was sick with a horrible flu one winter, and the meds made me so totally woozy. I would wake up and speak with my husband then not remember that I did so. Or else, I would experience this weird feeling a little while later where I felt I had discussed something with him, but it was hazy and I wasn’t sure I had imagined that or if it had really happened. It felt like I was remembering things, but I couldn’t be sure. It made me think of amnesia, of memory returning – how do you trust what the truth really is, then?

And this was the starting point for the character of Amelia. What if there is someone with her feeding her information, which are actually lies? Hence, her husband, Peter, came into the picture. Now why would Peter be hiding things from her? And what to make of the memories that seem to be coming to the fore? Are they real? Figments from her sub-conscious? Total fictional constructs?

I built it from there, and the story took a life of its own as I wrote and, along with Amelia, I discovered what her amnesia really hid through the first draft of the story. It is a tale that totally took me by surprise, because I didn’t know I was capable of coming up with such concepts and, to be honest, such darkness. Because it wasn’t light and fluffy with a pink glow at all, though there was a happy ending. I don’t think I could ever write anything that doesn’t have a happy ending.

 

Q: What would you do if you found yourself in Amelia’s shoes? Would you make the same choices she does?

A: To be honest, I really don’t know… As I have grown up and matured, I have reached the point where I now know to trust what my gut and heart are telling me. But this is because I have a certain particular frame of reference in my mind; I know how my past has shaped me into the being I am today.

But what if I am left without this frame of reference? What then? I think this is the fundamental question in this – who do you trust, when you’re not sure you can still trust yourself?

I know I would’ve gotten out of that bad marriage to a man like Peter, though – because no woman should have to tolerate such treatment, whether she has amnesia or not.

 

Q: What writing projects are you working on now?

A: The series I mentioned above – The Daimsbury Chronicles. These are shorter, quick tales of heart-felt romance that flow a lot like a soap opera. I am focusing on this right now, because it is quick bites I can write and put out more regularly for my readers. Currently, I am penning Book 3 in the lineup, that original cancer patient’s tale. I know – it all started with her, but she is only now getting her story. I’m hoping that book can come out sometime by August this year *touch wood*

I am also very much involved in the process of translating my books for the French market. I am a native French speaker; in fact, I only learned English through school, while I spoke French from my earliest days. So it’s a labour of love to balance new writing with translating a backlist, when translation, I have found, is pretty much writing a whole story from scratch but with the advantage that you have the original and won’t run into stumbling blocks or even full walls like with original writing in whatever language.

 

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That culture and peace and religion can co-exist, if we give them the chance. For example, I am a Muslim woman, yet I write romance, I cry at sappy movies (and books!), I love shopping and anything pink and fluffy, I’m a total shoe addict, I’m of Indian origin so consider myself also a Desi Girl. My best friend is a Catholic from Malta, and I’d give my life for her and vice versa. I have good friends from all walks of life – Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Arabs, European, American, Black, White, Asian, straight, lesbian, gay. All this doesn’t mean I’m a cop out on any front, be it being a Muslim or being a decent human being. We can live in peace and harmony – get to know the person, and don’t judge on generalities. Nobody is cut from the same cloth, not even identical twins with the same genome! We are all individuals, so please, address and get to know the individual, and through him/her, the world.

Find Zee Online:

Amazon