Author Q&A- Lee H Haywood

Today I had the honor of interviewing Lee H Haywood; an awesome writing and amazing world builder. You can enter a giveaway here for a chance to win a signed copy of his book, The Guardian! Read his interview below.

Lee H Haywood

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

A: I’ve been writing since my senior year of high school, so I guess it’s been close to fifteen years now. It is by no means a coincidence that my first endeavor into the realm of fantasy writing occurred the same year that The Fellowship of the Ring was released on the big screen. My first manuscript was poorly written, full of clichés and not something anyone would want to read. Still, it was a start, and helped to establish the work ethic I would need to write a 100,000-word novel in the future.

 

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

A: Reading a good story inspires me more than anything. Tolkien was my first love, but I’ve since found a whole assortment of “muses.” Brian Jacques still lingers with me twenty years after I closed the final page of Mossflower. Cormic McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic tale The Road taught me a lot about building tension through description. It wasn’t until the last year that I picked up my first Stephen King novel. I’m certain shades of King have slipped into my most recent work.

 

Q: Tell me about your new book, The Guardian. What was the original idea behind it?

A: I wrote the first draft of The Guardian while I was attending college. It started off with a very generic good vs. evil story arc. Thankfully, I grew up quite a bit in the decade between the first and final drafts of my book. As I got older, I learned a few things concerning the complexities of human nature. The final result was a book that examines the drive that keeps people moving forward even when the odds are stacked against them. That, and of course dragons. Everything is better with dragons. I knew this fact when I was eighteen, and I’ve only grown more certain of it with age.

 

Q: Which of your books has been the most fun to work on? Which was the most challenging?

A: My third book, The Order, was definitely the most fun. I hammered it out in a three week writing frenzy. Nothing is more enjoyable than the words flowing easily. The most challenging was a prequel to The Guardian that I’ll call Book X. Book X will probably not see the light of day for some time, as it is a disjointed mess. It was a five-year undertaking from start to finish, written at a time when writing was something I did when I had some extra time to kill. It was a genuine slog, but in the end, writing Book X proved absolutely crucial to my development as a writer and my decision to take up writing fulltime.

 

Q: Which of your characters is most like you and in what way?

A: Whenever I read a book, I always like to guess which character is really the author in disguise. In my writing, I think there is a little bit of me in all of my point of view characters. Bently, one of the central characters in The Guardian, struggles through a lot of the same questions I have about loyalty, service, and duty. While the character Dolum is pretty spot on with some of my own fears and insecurities. Even Demetry, the story’s antagonist, speaks to me on some days.

 

Q: If you could be inside any book besides one of your own, which would it be and why?

A: My mind wanders to the great fantasy worlds, and as terrifying as it would be, I’d choose George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. It just feels like a place that could actually exist. He has set a brilliantly high standard for world building.

 

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you began writing?

A: This is going to take a lot longer than you think. Progress with writing is measured in months and years, not days and weeks. Keep your head down and keep going. Every word written on paper is a step forward. You only fail when you stop writing.

 

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your writing career? What did you do to overcome it?

A: Getting published. For about a year and a half I languished through the process of trying to get someone to represent my work. I collected a staggeringly high pile of rejection letters from editors and agents. The solution: I quit my job and stepped into the world of Indie Publishing. I haven’t regretted the choice.

 

Q: What is the best part about building your own worlds? Where do you get your inspiration for them?

A: I majored in world history in college and proceeded to spend the next nine years of my life teaching history to high schoolers. World building has always come easily to me, simply because I have such a deep well to draw from. My thoughts on world building – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just paint it a different color. Laveria, which is the setting of my book, is heavily inspired by Greco-Roman and Ottoman history.

 

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

A: I received a letter from a former student the other day. In it he explained how happy he was that I decided to write full time because my book was “awesome.” The letter absolutely made my week.

Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and it often feels like I’m working in a vacuum. I’ve made a lot of leaps of faith, be it in writing, world building, designing covers, or even marketing. If you have enjoyed the work of an indie author, please be loud with your support. Write a review, recommend the book to a friend, and reach out to the author. I mean it, we want to know what you are thinking! The support of my fans keeps me clacking away at my keyboard, day in, day out. You can get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, or on my website at www.leehhaywood.com !

Find Lee Online:

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

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Author Q&A- Christopher Westley

Today I had the honor of interviewing an amazing author as well as a veteran; Christopher Westley. When he is not flying in a helicopter or travelling the world, you can find him at home, writing amazing books and editing Seven Days To Brooklyn, his newest novel.

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

A: I have been writing for nearly two decades, starting in college.

Writing is a good escape from the daily stressors of life, just as reading a book or watching a well-made movie.

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

A: Inspiration comes from many avenues, but I am inspired mostly to do my best. Big name Authors, but mostly I am inspired by the sense of accomplishment when I finish a novel.

My muse or source of inspiration: Clive Cussler, Stephen King and a few others. This is why you need a good editor….because, mostly is mostly overused!

Q: You were enlisted in the U.S. army for a three-year tour. Does that have any influence on your writing? How did that experience change your life?

A: The Army will always influence those that served. Many of the situations that I detail in Seven Days to Brooklyn are based on military protocols and experience. Although, I will state that I never went to war even though I served during desert storm and never shot anyone. I am thankful for that and am grateful to have served and appreciate those that are still serving, we owe them more than we could ever pay them. Military life instills discipline and structure; at age 19, it was a good fit for me. Every day, I use things in daily life that I learned in the military.

Q: You are an avid traveler. Tell me about the places you’ve been. Where was your favorite place? Least favorite?

A: I recently drove to Alaska, up the Alcan Highway with my wife and cat (Angel). The rest of last summer, we lived in a 16×16’ cabin on a remote lake on the Kenai Peninsula, while I flew for the US Forest Service, fighting wildfires. Other places of note include: Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Canada and I have been through every state, adding Alaska last year. My most favorite place is Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Least favorite, Virginia; it is not a bad state, we just prefer to live in the western states.

Q: If you could visit one of the places you’ve travelled but in a different time period, when and where would it be? Why?

A: The Yukon, during the gold rush. It is still a very remote place and one of the most beautiful places I have visited on the planet. It is refreshing to drive down the highway and not see another car for hours. I am a risk taker, so I’m pretty sure if I had lived in the 1800, early 1900s, I would be out there digging for gold in a mountain stream.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into your writing?

A: Writing is tough work. The headliners spend months on end, 14+ hours a day or more banging away at the keyboard throwing their mental energies into trying to make a story readable and acceptable to the public. It took four years to write Seven Days to Brooklyn, and a couple of months editing (we are just finishing up now.) The next two books, I wrote in four months. Just to clarify, the two I just wrote in the last four months, was full time writing nearly six days a week at least four to eight hours a day or more. Once the juices get flowing, I just go with it. Writing is like that, some days you can bang out 7000 words, the next day you will be lucky to get 500. I also spend a lot of time researching what goes into the book, just to make it as accurate and truthful as possible, even though it is fiction.

Q: You have said that you love coffee; especially a cappuccino. How much coffee would you say you drink every day?

A: Cappuccino is my kryptonite. Some days I drink 1 cup of coffee, other days as much as six, but I try to stick to two cups a day.

Q: Which of the characters you have created is most like you? In what way?

A: My characters are fiction, but I guess they all have a piece of me in them. My experiences definitely play a part in what or how the character reacts. I’ve never killed a zombie before, but do know how to chop some brushy jungle down with a machete’ and have spent days on end walking in the Army. I also fly helicopter and have a fixed wing rating (airplane) so my main character Sara Robinson, fly’s and I use firsthand knowledge but keep the terminology simple for my reader (nobody wants to hear the technical jargon of wing twist, etc., lift and those boring things, unless you are reading a technical publication on aircraft. Sara is a survivalist, like myself and has to overcome many things en-route across the states, much like I have with various jobs and travels.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you were in high school?

A: High School advice: High school teaches you the basics. I.E. how to go to lunch, add a+b to get c and basically interact with other students. What they need to teach you is how to function in the job market and how to deal with difficult bosses and difficult work situations. You learn this by doing. Myself, I have learned it by making lots of mistakes.

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

A: All humanity should know that life and people are generally good. To put it simply; the Dalai Lama and Buddhist teachings view all people as their mother. In doing so, this makes them appreciate even the most difficult person or someone they really do not like. Viewing that person and treating them with respect and kindness like they would do for their mother alleviates a lot of problem in and of itself. The golden rule, that’s what they should teach you daily in school.

Find Chris Online:

Website

Twitter

Author Q&A- Clive Culverhouse

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented author, Clive Culverhouse. Between raising awareness for mental health and blogging, he has created a whole new world in his book, The Legend of Heliodor.

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: I have always enjoyed writing, whether it be short stories or comedy sketches for television. I started writing my book The Legend Of Heliodor: The Crystal Spirits in 2010 after finding myself with a long period of time suddenly on my hands. Writing a book was something I always wanted to do but never got around to it until I was injured out of my career as a Paramedic and then I had all the time in the world so eventually I began to write it.

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

A: I’ve always had an urge to write something no matter what it is. Life is full of inspiration. I like the stories people tell. When I was a paramedic I got to hear a lot of what people said as we chatted in the back of an ambulance. Everyone has a story to tell.

Q: Tell me about your book The Legend of Heliodor. What was the original idea behind it?

28688701A: One thing I like about books, especially the fantasy genre, is the world that can be created out of the imagination. I always liked the world of Tolkien, the lands and the maps. I had the idea to invent my own world, a magical land far away. I combined that with a long-time passion of rocks, minerals and crystals to come up with a world and a people who worship and use crystals. I also wanted the people to be named after the crystals we know today. The other main thing about the book I was keen to install is also Tolkien-like and inspired by the bible. I’m not religious but I do like the fact that we have all grown up with ancient tales, folklore and myths. I wanted my book to be centred on an ancient story that has been passed down for generations where it suddenly springs to life as the current characters are thrown into the legend and then become part of its continuation.

Q: You raise awareness of mental health, and have been depressed before. What is one thing the world needs to understand about depression and mental sickness?

A: It was the loss of my job and career due to injury that sent me into a long clinical depression. I lost my function, my role, my purpose both in work and at home in my family. I let friends go and drifted into a world of solitude almost losing my family too. I cut everyone off. But I did come back to reality after a long and difficult fight. In fact I retrained as a counsellor and gained qualifications in mental health. I now co-run a mental health support group. So it is there that recovery IS possible, a new life can come from the ashes of the old. The life I have led since and especially the people I met along the way is something I wouldn’t change, so therefore I look at the depression and mental illness I suffered and think it was necessary to make me who I am now. The illness and experience doesn’t have to be negative, for me it is all positive and I wouldn’t turn back the clock. I still have bad days and re-occurrences from time to time but I cope a lot better now. They are just little nudges to remind me to self-reflect.

Q: If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?

A: Just to plan and plan again.

Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?

A: When I was planning The Legend Of Heliodor I wanted it to be told over three books. So I’m working on the next two instalments. Although actually, they’re taking a back seat because I decided to write a book called The Legend Of Heliodor: Tales From The Realm. It’s a collection of short stories, tales, myths and fairy tales from the world I created. It’s a way I suppose to draw people into the main story. I’m really enjoying the experience of writing short stories using different writing styles and formats. Good practice!

Q: Which of your characters do you have the strongest bond with?

A: I think the character would have to be my main character Kyan. With him being the main one, it’s him that I have had to be with most of all. He finds himself thrown into a world due to things happening to him, not by choice and in a world where he has to learn quickly and he’s unsure with worries and fears. He shows self-doubt and needs reassurance and support. I think that sounds like me!

Q: Do you have any advice for budding writers?

A: I think if you’re creating a world then that world has got to work. A society needs to function and so there has to be a logic that needs to be thought through and that will need a look at all aspects of that society to remove inconsistencies or things that wouldn’t work for whatever reason. I like my magical world to be believable even though it’s just fantasy. So the key is to plan and plan again. Then again. With magic there has to be a way the magic works, it can’t just work any old how, in my world of Heliodor the magic comes from the mind linking with the crystals. People in my world can’t just summon up magic, there needs to be a crystal. So I think the most important thing about writing is the story, the plot, the world and the magic all needs to work with no flaws or contradictions. You can have the most bizarre world imaginable but if it functions logically then it will work!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in any time period, where would you go and why?

A: I’ve always liked the Victorian era of the 1800’s. It was a time where science started to take off and a lot of inventors are from this period. A lot of things were getting started, and they were the first to realise that life needn’t be hard work and so they invented leisure! They were the first to go on holidays! Some of the great writers and works of fiction came from this period. Science fiction, fantasy and horror all came from this period. Plus my great great great grandfather was a chemist and apothecary, his father before him was a chemist and I like to believe an alchemist. I’d love to have a look around their laboratories, shops and back rooms.

Q: What is one thing the world should know?

A: I discovered that instead of suffering from something, whatever it is can be used. It’s a tool for your toolbox of life. I wrote a blog post called ‘A Lightbulb Moment’ which explains it well. I use my mental illness to be non-judgemental and understanding of others, I don’t ‘suffer’ it. I still have depression from time to time but depression doesn’t have me! I use it now, therefore I have ownership of it and it has made life easier thinking of it like that.

You can find Clive online:

Blog

Twitter

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Author Q&A- T P Keane

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most interesting authors out there; T P Keane! She is getting ready to publish The Paladins of Naretia, her debut novel!

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

A; I suppose I’ve been writing all my life. As a child, I was never a really good student. In fact, I wouldn’t be amiss at saying that I was probably one of the worst. That was somewhat of a confidence stomper. But I loved stories, and I would often imagine my new worlds and adventures while I lay in bed at night. It wasn’t until I had my two children, and started telling them the adventures I dreamed, that I began to write them down.

 

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

A: I have many muses. Every time I pick up a work of art by a great author, and see how he/she has twisted words and descriptions to not only describe the world I’ve been plunged into, but also the atmosphere. It’s something I’m trying very hard to emulate, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten it down yet. Most recently, I’ve been reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by NK Jemisin. I have to say, that is as close to perfection as I ever hope to become.

 

Q: You are the middle child of seven children! What was it like growing up with that many siblings? How close are you in age?

A: Growing up with six other brothers and sisters and be described in two words, loud and constant. Thankfully I was subject to the “middle-child syndrome” where often I would be forgotten, or paid very little attention to. But that only applied to my parents, who were too busy running around after a multitude of diaper-wearing monsters that were only content when they were dismantling the house from the ground up. It was tough going for my parents, and I often wondered how my mother did it all. Most of us, with the exception of the eldest, were only a year to two years apart.

 

Q: You fell back in love with storytelling when you began telling your two children bedtime stories. Did these stories spawn the birth of your upcoming book, The Paladins of Naretia?

A: The stories I told my kids were more quirky, odd-ball tales of green elephants with ten wings and a perpetual need to fart. While those kinds of stories weren’t the seeds for The Paladins of Naretia, they were the stirrings that began my need, my want, to create a world properly. I wanted to explore my talent, or lack thereof, in story-telling, regardless of my inability to spell (thank God for spellcheck). It has also just occurred to me that if this all flops on its face, I can blame them.

 

Q: Tell me about The Paladins of Naretia. What went on behind the scenes of creating such an amazing book?

A: I could tell you the plot and the characters behind it, but that can be read on the cover of the book. Behind the scenes, however, is a completely different story. While Olórin, an aged wizard, is set the task of saving the29354761 kingdom by also saving his adopted son from his real father, the dark god Dantet, this isn’t the crux of the story. The Paladins of Naretia is about love. It examines, on three fronts, the bravery and destructiveness that love can bring. Firstly, we have the broken love between Dantet and Edwina, the two ruling gods. They are the divorced parents, if you will, caught up in the hatred of each other and using their children, the people of Naretia, as pawns. Secondly, we have the false love between Olórin and his adopted son, Aramus, who he hopes against all odds will have inherited some humanity from his mother’s side. But Aramus, like Dantet, is incapable of truly loving anything. In the end, Olórin must face the truth of what this means. Our third, but not last, portrayal of love, is true love. Through the novel, we begin to hope, to pray, that Aramus falls in love with the tyrannical queen, Aria, who must put aside her demons to help them. Olórin hopes that love between them would help Aramus stay away from the darkness. But there is only one true love in The Paladins of Naretia, and that is between Aria and her seven-year-old brother Pearan. Her love for him is unconditional and fearless. In the end she will make the ultimate sacrifice to save his life.

 

Q: If you could go back to when you first began writing, what would you tell yourself?

A: Read more, examine how other authors convey their meaning and believe in yourself.

 

Q: If you could be any one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

A: Superficially, I would like to be Aramus, because I would love the ability to fly. But truthfully, I thing I would like to be Sudia, an elf who is half-turned and fighting for her life and for a cure. She intrigues me. Although she is not a main character in the book, she will play a bigger role in the subsequent books and I can’t wait to see how she, a grey-elf, will end up being the moral compass.

 

Q: What is your absolute favorite book? Why?

A: I have so many. I love John Green’s Fault in our Stars, because it is such a heart-warming and breaking story. I also love Ransom Riggs because of the way he uses old photos to spin a tale in Ms Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. Although I have many authors I love to read, I’m slowly becoming an uber-fan of NK Jeminsin, purely because of his skill… and maybe because it’s an awesome story.

 

Q: You have lived in several places. What has been your favorite so far? What makes that place special?

A: I’ve lived and worked in Ireland, UK and in USA. It’s been a wonderful experience to get the opportunity to not just visit each of them, but become part of them. There are certain aspects of each that I both loved and disliked, but for the most part, they bring their own unique cultural and social differences… which is fodder for my books, of course.

 

While I was born in Ireland, and it has many of my family and friends, I’ve never been a fan of the weather. Too much rain and grey skies for me. The States has yielded many more friends and I’ve loved the snowy winters and hot summers of New England. But the UK has always held a special place in my heart. I can’t really explain why, but something inside of me keeps drawing me back to the UK and we may very well end up settling there again.

 

Q: What is one thing you want the world to know?

A: That if I can do it, so can they. Anyone who knew me as a child, would have never thought that I would publish a book. I would never have thought it either, but my love of story-telling is like breathing to me. It’s something I have to do. So, if I can get around my inability to spell, my lack of experience, the little voice in my head telling me to “not be so stupid and don’t embarrass yourself,” then so can anyone. Self-belief is crucial to following your dreams no matter what they are.

 

You can find T P Keane online:

Website: www.tpkeane.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009366060306

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TPKeaneauthor

Amazon book link: http://www.amazon.com/Paladins-Naretia-Book-one-ebook/dp/B01AYC44ZU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455206850&sr=8-1&keywords=the+paladins+of+naretia

Facebook book release party: https://www.facebook.com/events/988671311200675/

Writing my First Chapter

For the past two days I have been working on the first chapter of my second novel. As I have said before, my first novel (Keep Moving On) was not written very well. I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which meant I had to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It was definitely not easy.

My second novel, Candy Wrappers, has nothing to do with Keep Moving On. It is going to be the first in a series called The Gravestone Chronicles, which will follow Malia Kotter and Zane Towne in their quest to find the gravestone and banish demons from our world once and for all. In Candy Wrappers Malia is going to meet Zane, and learn about the threat of demons in the world; and how they are the real reason behind her parents murder.

I have most of the main plot points figured out, but how to actually start the book is a whole different story. I truly believe that beginning a story is the hardest part. You face the challenge of setting up the plot, characters, and setting, all while keeping the reader engaged.  Just the thought of doing this makes me want to curl up under a rug somewhere and hide.

In the past two days of working on my book, I have written 1,218 words; that is about 2 1/2 pages of size 11 font. I have successfully completed my first scene, which is about 1/3 of my first chapter. In all honesty, I think I would have written a lot more if I didn’t spend so much time online and on social media; however, it is part of my life, and I have no deadline for when I want my first draft to be done.

I have also spent a lot of time staring at my sentences and rewriting them over and over again. I think it is fair to say that I am a bit of a perfectionist. Hopefully I will be able to resist the urge to edit so I can get some new words on the end.

I have some high hopes for Candy Wrappers, and seeing it being written down on a page is very encouraging. I can’t wait to write some more, and see if Malia and Zane want to go along with my plans for them.