Thursday, September 21, 2017

Interview with multi-genre novelist Layton Green

Multi-genre novelist Layton Green is here today and we’re chatting about the first book in his new Blackwood Saga fantasy series, The Brothers Three.

Bio:
Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have been optioned for film, nominated for multiple awards (including a finalist for an International Thriller Writers award), and have reached #1 on numerous genre lists in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. His latest Dominic Grey novel, The Shadow Cartel, was a #2 overall bestseller on Amazon UK. Layton is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade. He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door to door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there.

Welcome, Layton. Please tell us about your current release.
I started with the idea of ‘what do I really want to read?’ I love epic fantasy, I love fantasy novels that transport characters from our world to another world, and I also love urban fantasy. I decided to meld all three, and the world building—the alternate-reality New Orleans—just sort of took off. After the brothers reach the new world and team up with a dangerous adventuress and her band of mercenaries, The Brothers Three follows a classic quest motif, a journey to an abandoned keep, and it’s the first in the series (The Blackwood Saga). There will be five in total.

What inspired you to write this book?
My love of fantasy.


Excerpt from The Brothers Three:

-1-

If only all nights were this sultry, all moons so bright and clear. The tendrils of Spanish moss dripping from the oaks whispered adventure in Will Blackwood’s ear, made him long for gallant quests and fiendish dungeons and exotic, leather-clad heroines.
With practiced flair, Will threw his cape over his shoulder, pulled on his gauntlets, and twirled his sword above his head. Then he shut the trunk of his Honda Civic and trudged through the parking lot to the employee entrance of Medieval Nights, a joust-themed dinner theatre in New Orleans.
To make ends meet, Will spent a few nights a week engaging in staged battles with a staff of fellow underachieving twenty-somethings. Once Will stepped into the pennant-lined arena, the music started, and the crowd of children and bored retirees screamed at the top of their lungs for blood and victory, he knew he was as close to Middle Earth as he was ever going to get.
After dispatching two trolls and a papier-mâché dragon, Will changed into a pair of Carhartt pants and a T-shirt and headed to the House of Spirits, a funky little joint where his brother Caleb tended bar.
It would be the same routine: two draft Abita Ambers to take the edge off, a little online gaming back at the apartment, and then asleep by midnight so Will could wake up at six a.m. for his day job as a general contractor’s assistant.
Just like every other night, just like every other morning.
Right before he walked through the beaded entrance of the House of Spirits, Will felt his cell buzz.
The text was from his oldest friend, Lance Wesson, whose name Will envied for not sounding like a hobbit’s.
Lance had enlisted in the Marines after high school, then joined the New Orleans Police Department after returning from active duty. Will’s history of severe panic attacks, which had started after his father died, prevented Will from joining any profession involving danger or stress. Lance was sympathetic and let him ride along on calls he knew wouldn’t involve any risk.
Will texted back.
           
            Will sighed, running a hand through his blond hair. What would be his next big vicarious adventure, staking out jaywalkers?
He always felt patronized when he rode with Lance, but he had trouble resisting the siren call of potential excitement.
            Will’s fingers flicked across the keypad.
           
Will stepped outside to wait. His quick blue eyes roamed the darkened street, all too aware that nothing truly mysterious lived in the shadows of New Orleans, or anywhere else on Earth.
 Why had evolution enabled human beings to develop such potent imaginations?
* * *


What exciting story are you working on next?
The fourth book in The Blackwood Saga

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I came upon writing a little bit by accident. While I was working as an attorney, I set out to write a novel that I felt I needed to write. Not because I was a novelist (I had never written a word of fiction, outside of my legal briefs), but because I had a story I wanted to tell. During the process of fumbling through that first novel, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that writing novels was what I had to do with my life. I think anyone who completes a novel should feel like a writer!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time now, six to eight hours a day, at least five days a week.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I “hunt and peck” with two fingers. It gives me time to think about what I’m writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A paleontologist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d love for you to check out my work!

Links:

Thanks for joining me here today, Layton.




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Interview with writer David L. Faucheux

Writer David L. Faucheux is here with me to chat about his memoir, Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile.

During his virtual book tour, David will be awarding a library edition audio book (US only) to a lucky randomly drawn winner, or if an international winner, a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice). To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m pleased to take a moment to talk about myself and what makes me tick. I’d have to say books, books, and more books. Let me explain. Braille and recorded books take me places and show me things I would otherwise never get to encounter. They see for me by their descriptions, their vivid word pictures, and lyrical prose. They befriend me when I'm lonely, educate me when I'm curious, and amuse me when I'm in a blue mood. I have always known I could pick up a book and for a time be in a better or at least A different place. Books don't judge, ignore, or marginalize us. I remember long, hot, Louisiana summers that were perfect for curling up with a good book. I have had to struggle some nights to put the book away because I’d not be able to get up for work the next morning. That’s being a bit too biblioholic.

I have worked as a medical transcriptionist and braille instructor. I attended library school in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to take off. I ran an audio blog for several years. I have also served on the board of a nonprofit organization that attempted to start a radio reading service in the town where I live. Since 2006, I have reviewed audio books for Library Journal.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
This bit is from the CreateSpace blurb. I think it sums things up rather nicely.
“Friends and family. Restaurants and recipes. Hobbies and history. TV programs the author loved when he could still see and music he enjoys. The schools he attended and the two degrees he attained. The career that eluded him and the physical problems that challenge him. And books, books, books: over 200 of them quoted from or reviewed. All In all, an astonishing work of erudition and remembrance.”

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to be heard; I have long felt invisible. I was at a place in my life where several career options simply collapsed. I had no idea what to do next. A friend asked me to review something she had written. I did and thought, ‘I think I could write a journal.’ So I dove in and did.


Excerpt from Across Two Novembers:
Introduction 

More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand, my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free.
—Helen Keller (1880–1968)

I have long wanted to write and publish something, be it an historic novel, a young adult novel, or nonfiction. When, in November 2013, Dr. Katherine Schneider asked me to read and review her just–published Occupying Aging, I conquered my usual reservations: Would I be a good reviewer? Would I be able to write something interesting and help her book sales? I dove in and came up with this review, which appeared on www.goodreads.com:
This book, with its mixture of the quotidian and sublime, stands as an interesting glimpse into the life of one early 21st–century woman. Schneider, a retired psychologist, recounts a year of thoughts and events in this journal. Her ruminations on death, spirituality, dogs, and navigating the landscape of the sighted as a totally blind inhabitant of her Wisconsin college town are enlightening. Touches of humor involving Fran, her Seeing Eye® dog, add a sense of fun.

As someone who is acquainted with Dr. Schneider (we have exchanged emails), I could wish I occupied my 40s quite as well as she does her 60s. The proactive attempts to educate about disability issues, the volunteering, and the public speaking are outstanding. Maybe some of her enthusiasm for life will rub off on all her readers.—An excellent vade mecum, a handbook, for handling the uncertainties of retirement.

While reading her book and formulating my review, I thought, Oh! I just might be able to write something in this journal–type format. So I jumped in right then, not waiting to begin on the more traditional January 1. I thought that to wait was to postpone indefinitely and fail; to start could mean a chance at a successful resolution. Who says a journal has to run from January 1 to December 31 to be of interest?

So, everyone, here goes nothing!


What exciting story are you working on next?
I am in an in-between time. I am trying to promote this book and figure out where my writing career wants to take me. Will I write a nonfiction book about an ancestor? Will I try to write a short story collection?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I consider myself a writer. I concede that I may have writing ability. I don’t feel compelled to write. I more feel compelled to read. But I thought I should try to write, too; just a bit. Oh, as a child, I did rather like the idea of being this exotic creature known as “a writer.” But I had no idea w hat such a career involved.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I try to write several hours a day. I can’t write more than that because of the Fibromyalgia Syndrome that nips at my heels like a stray dog that just won’t go home. If I try to write longer, I get so befuddled. This caused some problems in the editing of my book. I kept finding better ways to say things and it drove my long-suffering editor crazy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am hung-up on grammar. I need to just fling the words onto the page, or type them into a computer file and not worry about any punctuation or spelling -- Just plop a word-mess right there, no grammar or style litter boxes. Like Jackson Pollock painted! Drip … splat … splot. The novel as abstract expressionistic art.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This is a hard one. Being blind, I had no real role models. I had no idea what to be. Even in college, I had no idea what to major in. I tried Spanish as I thought being an interpreter would be rather fun. I didn’t have the knack for this language, having only had a year or so in high school. I never got past its rapid staccato sound. So I changed my major to English (linguistics option) with a Spanish minor. A very unsympathetic professor destroyed my interest in pursuing linguistics at the graduate level. I literally came to a screeching halt after college. It was not a good time. I managed to get a job teaching braille for a time and also did medical transcription for a time, but neither worked out well.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, and I appreciate this opportunity and your thoughtfulness.

I’d like to answer the question – If you had the talent and resources to research and write any kind of book, what would you write or if you – as an editor – could commission any kind of book, what would it be?

I have several ideas for books though I suspect the fiction options are beyond my skills and would have to be commissioned. I suspect long historic fiction is out of favor with the reading public of today. Alas.

1. Empress Eugenie: She was just as interesting as Empress Elizabeth of Hapsburg or Queen Victoria, two of her contemporaries. But I find no writer today, writer in English, who has done anything with her, be it a fictionalized biography, or even a straight memoir or biography. If French writers have written about her, I have not located the translations. She has not been written about for the young adult set though there is a series of books for younger readers that feature a young Queen Elizabeth I and other young royals, some written by Carolyn Meyer. Eugenie lived at a particularly interesting time and reigned over the circus that was the empire of the third Napoleon. It all came tumbling down in 1871 and she later lost her son in a hunting accident in South Africa. She lived until 1920. Surely, if Marie Antoinette rates, Eugenie should. Margaret George could have written the story. She did Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scotts, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, and Nero. If I could, I would have.

2. Inca: Gary Jennings wrote Aztec. (Actually, there were several follow-up books to his Aztec, but it was Aztec that was outstanding, the others were possibly written at the suggestion of an editor to hopefully cash in on Aztec’s success. I always hoped he would have lived long enough to write Inca to do for that group of South American natives what Aztec did for Mexico.

3. Short story collection about my days at a residential school for the blind: I could possibly do this with some guidance. This type of school is rapidly fading from popularity. Most blind children today are mainstreamed into public schools. In the 1970s, this was not always true.
4. Isabella Mora: She is an ancestor of mine. She came here to Louisiana in 1779, about age 10, with her Canary Island family. I found her story interesting because two of her descendants married and we think caused the eye condition in our family. Also, exploring her life in Spanish Louisiana would be interesting because few people recall Louisiana was Spanish for a time, not just French.

5. Wahl Diet: I’d like to go to a diet boot camp and attempt this diet. The author, a Dr. Wahl, developed it and it cured her MS or made it more manageable. But it’s a very hard diet, kinda like paleo. I’d be curious to see if it might help my Fibromyalgia Syndrome. I think it’d be a neat book or at least major article. I’d want to put it to the test. Takes money to go to see any doctor like that.

6. MFA in Gastronomy: Books have been written about the author’s time at business school, Snapshots from Hell, or in law school, One L: The Turbulent True Story … And now we need a book describing a class beginning its time at Boston University to obtain an MFA in Gastronomy. Seems such a unique degree, rather new, developed by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin.

Well, enough said. I am running on.

So many ideas to work with!

Links:
Website | TV interview | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple

Thank you for being a guest on my blog, David!


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Interview with novelist and poet Antonio J. Hopson

Writer Antonio J. Hopson joins me today to talk about Nefarious, it has a bit of adventure, literary fiction, contemporary, and humor.

Bio:
Antonio J. Hopson is a fiction writer, poet, teacher, and father. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in environmental science, and is a biology teacher at Lakeside Middle School in Seattle. He has always had a love of writing, poetry in particular. His works of poetry, speculative fiction, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, and he was a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. He has also been the recipient of a Reader’s Choice Award from Farmhouse Magazine and was an EPIC e-book Award finalist. Antonio is the author of numerous short stories, several novels, and a collection of poetry, Seven, which was published in 2016 and spent three weeks at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases.

When he isn’t writing, he likes to spend his free time painting, cooking, playing ping pong, and scuba diving in the cold waters off Puget Sound. He also enjoys taking road trips and camping with his two sons in their 57 Security trailer. He was born and raised in South Seattle and now lives north of the city in Shoreline, WA. 

Welcome, Antonio. Please tell us about your current release.
Max Rigby is a middle-aged, aloof writer stuck in the past when he falls in love with the pit-girl from S/V Nefarious, a sailing vessel that lives up to its name. The woman who has awakened his heart is the fleet's most fierce sailor, Robin Mac Bradaigh, aka "Mac", a young, fiery, unapologetic sailor who refuses to be pushed around by a fleet of scoundrels. But Nefarious carries a dark reputation, and Max soon finds himself caught up in a sailing race that is as dangerous as it is thrilling. Unburdened by the necessities of polite society, the sailors aboard Nefarious are forced to defend their title during Race Week, a rowdy and rough competition in the Salish Sea. The devil himself has stakes in the race, and he must keep his skipper, Dan Swardstrom from distractions: the mysterious pregnancy of his fiancée, a hung-over crew that keeps blowing their starts, and a mutiny led by the pit-girl. During the race, the devil has been forced to live the life of a mortal and can only sail for Nefarious. He desires the Race Week trophy, centerpiece to a hedonistic party that requires animal sacrifice

What inspired you to write this book?
In a word: sailing. Racing, in particular. It is a unique way of life that not many of us have access to. I found myself fortunate enough to join a crew, and instantly I was caught up in the drama.

Excerpt from Nefarious:

CHAPTER 1
For no good reason, people tended to become a friend or a foe of Dan Swardstrom. He was not particularly benevolent, nor was he physically or intellectually intimidating, but there was something chancy about him. Perhaps it was the crookedness of his smile, the boyish, cocksure gleam in his mercury eyes, the way he positioned his body while sailing as if he were about to take a punch on the chin, or the way he somehow, through no fault of his own, ended up with your girlfriend sitting on his lap at the end of a party.

Despite his modest demeanor, Dan Swardstrom stood out among his peers; a consummate gentleman among pirates, assholes, vandals and picaroons–words that accurately describe every one of his friends. His wintery hair and smart, mercurial eyes were deceiving. Your only warning of what he was truly capable of lay just below his right eye where a broken halyard once lashed out and left him with a compelling story to tell over a drink. When he smiled from the other side of a bottle of rum, the little scar frowned at you.

Today, he proudly steered his race boat through picturesque Lake Union, a Farr 30–a class of sailboat well regarded in the Seattle fleet. It was sleek and fast, designed to carve through water as smoothly as a Ferrari devours blacktop on a racecourse. The wind was at his back, blowing his thinning hair out in front of him, obscuring a fresh, excited face. Only a few scattered cumulous clouds speckled the sky. The sun was out, and the day was young.

“Sir, I need you to kill your engine!”

Harbor 1, the Marine Patrol unit that operates a 37-foot, cabin cruiser with twin diesel engines patrols the busy waters of Lake Union. It was called to the area to intercept a party boat, but what the captain found instead was S/V Nefarious; its sails stowed, motoring speciously along the cut at an easy pace. No wake. Five knots, not fast enough to disturb the charming houseboats or the posh, floating restaurants with diners enjoying an early lunch. Why would a broken dock be tied to the hull of a sailboat? The captain put away his binoculars and picked up his bullhorn.

“Sir, did you know...”

“Yes,” Dan said, nodding at the flotsam. “It’s mine. My bowman neglected to untie us, and my crew didn’t notice it until you started tailing us.”

“Well, that solves one of our problems.”

“Problem two?”

The captain motioned his pilot to close the distance.

“Have you been drinking, skipper?”

“Most definitely,” Dan said. “Problem three?”

Harbor 1 drifted closer and the captain was not amused by the smirk on the skipper’s face: a handsome face with a neatly trimmed, silver beard stuck to it. He set down his bullhorn and turned off his flashing lights.

“A woman reported that someone on your vessel yelled ‘hot soup’ and then emptied a bucket of urine overboard onto her kayak.”

Dan scratched his beard.

“Yes, that’s true,” he said, “but, to be fair, she did not give me right of way while approaching my vessel.”

The crew was quiet, like refugees caught in the night, and it was a miracle that they resisted the urge to sip their beers or drink from the lucky bottle of rum.

“Isn’t your vessel equipped with a head?”

“Let me ask you this,” Dan said. “Would you ask the owner of a Ferrari if there was a commode under the seat?”

The captain boarded Nefarious. When he stepped on a beer can, he sneered. This was unsafe. This was sloppy yachting. He removed a fresh citation from his pocket and looked hard at the refugees as they pretended to be sober.

“Skipper,” he said while scratching his pen on the citation. “What is the destination of this vessel?”

“Race Week,” Dan said.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am completing a book of poetry for Anaphora Press. At the moment it’s titled, “The Cartographer”. I enjoy writing poems that come from the heart, a complicated organ. I attempt to map its complexities and nuances using some of experience as a sentimental man.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first thought of myself as a writer when CJ, a high school friend, proposed that we write a play. We worked on it all summer and the next year it was selected by our drama department as the spring performance. We knew that we would be playing the main characters, so, of course we wrote in as many kissing scenes as we could get away with. Lol.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I only write full time in the summer. During the rest of the year I am a biology teacher.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is a fun question. I would say that in every story I MUST include some type of “magic”, or surrealism, that can’t be explained by the main character. There is nothing worst (or more uninteresting) for me than reading a book where the author explains the monster away, or the magic, or any situation that has a mystic feel to it. I think you can detect this in all my books. In real life I want Bigfoot to exist, but the facts add up against it. In fiction, it doesn’t have to, now does it?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I totally wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still a space cadet.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d like to thank them for their support—especially if they are willing to take a chance on a writer who works through an independent press like Anaphora. The extreme bottleneck that happens with establishment presses means that 99.9 percent of authors are doomed to a slush pile, aka, junk pile. Many agents and editors are blinded a narrow definition of what they think is a worthy MS. Just sayin’!

Links:


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Thanks for being here today, Antonio.