Interview with Award Winning Author Liv Hadden

liv-hadden-bragI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author and Debut novelist Liv Hadden to Layered Pages today. Liv has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously. Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt. She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.” Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management. She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas. Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Thank you for chatting with me today, Liv. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I was doing some reading online about reputable awards for indie novels and indieBRAG was listed in several places. When I visited the site and saw the medallion books, I knew I wanted my novel to show up there!

Tell me a little about In he Mind of Revenge and your inspiration for it.

In the Mind of Revenge is an intimate look into how monsters are born. The narrative follows an assault victim’s destructive journey to revenge, and how thin the line is between retribution and wrongdoing. I got the inspiration while I was dealing with depression in college. I had written a page about how I was feeling right before bed, which turned into a dream about the embodiment of my shame. The main character is named Shame because of that dream.

in-the-mind-of-revenge-ii

What is an example of Shame’s vulnerability?

Shame has a big weak spot for their childhood love, Cassie. Shame’s relentless pursuit of Cassie causes Shame to get into trouble and hurt other people they come to care about along the way.

How are your monsters influenced by their setting?

Shame’s transformation into a monster is a direct result of the bullying they experienced and societal norms that didn’t allow for Shame to be as Shame was. Once Shame is in Baltimore, they’re at the mercy of a city and people they don’t know, which is basically how Shame meets some good friends and enemies.

How would your characters describe you?

I think Shame would find my eternal optimism annoying, but I might get away without too much incident because of my wit; I am always happy to participate in banter. Juice Box would probably say I’m boring since I stay inside all the time and my adventures are very organized, but he would like that I laugh at all his jokes and idiosyncrasies. Anna would consider me a civilian and wouldn’t give me a second glance. Of everyone, I think Emma would like me most. I think she’d say I’m caring, funny, and ambitious.

Who are your influences?

Every story I consume, no matter the medium, influences me. Even just my friends who are great at sharing a story inspire me or get me thinking. If I’m forced to name a few recognizable characters, I’d say Stieg Larson influenced the darkness in this novel; James Patterson influences my work ethic and sense of drama; Maya Angelou keeps me motivated and authentic; J.K. Rowling keeps me dreaming and influences the way I shape my secondary characters.

What is your writing process and how much time during the day do you write?

Well, my process is in the middle of an evolution as I grow as an author. I used to just write as it came, but now I am finding adding a bit more discipline to my process will create stronger plots and more intriguing characters. That is especially true when writing a sequel since I’ve set up all these rules for myself—I need to make sure I follow them for continuity and to maintain the integrity of the story. Basically, I’m creating flexible outlines and getting a feel for the end goal instead of just discovery writing. I have my own web design business, so I don’t write every day. I’d say I write fiction at least 5-8 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on my schedule. But, I create and write content every day for work; even if it’s not a novel, all writing makes you better!

Who designed your book cover?

The designer at Ebook Launch did, and I love it. Would definitely recommend them to other indie authors.

What are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi manuscript called CROSSFADE. Then I’ll be building a detailed outline for the second installment in The Shamed series, which I am getting really excited about!

Where can readers buy your books?

Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Indie Bound, and I am excited to say Audible!

Liv Hadden’s Website

goodreads | facebook | twitter | instagram

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Liv Hadden who is the author of, IN THE MIND OF RENVEGE, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, IN THE MIND OF REVENGE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

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Praise for In the Mind of Revenge

 

“If a cat has nine lives, Shame has 29. Liv Hadden leaves us in the dark as to whether this

character is a girl or a boy. As Shame often muses, why is gender that important? It’s

reflecting on issues like gender that makes In the Mind of Revenge more than just a rather

exciting read.” – Reader’s Favorite

“A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely

complicated.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In the Mind of Revenge tackles hot-button social issues in a way that forces the reader to rethink the

importance of what society deems as normal.” – Self-Publishing Review

“An absorbing crime story…” – Blue Ink Reviews

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Full Book Description:

Mine is a tale of pain, hate, lies, murder, injustice, vengeance, and love unreturned.

It began much like yours; a hopeful innocent born to a world of endless possibilities. But my journey has rarely been paved with opportunities of light. Confronted by those who sought to eclipse what light I had found, the darkness came for me. Wrapped in its intoxicating embrace, I have risen from the dead to reclaim my dignity and the life that was taken from me. I have begun my journey into the mind of revenge. Revenge for me. Revenge for those like me. Those who are shamed.

This is a story for the shamed, by the shamed. The question is, are you ready for it?

In the Mind of Revenge, book one of The Shamed Series, takes a deep look at how monsters are born.

Set in a society that glorifies “normal” and demonizes different, this dark tale takes its readers on an emotionally wild ride of vengeance, murder, pain and desperation. Though the reader is warned by its main character, Shame, not to develop an attachment, the first person narrative combined with Shame’s uninhibited vulnerability makes it nearly impossible not to do so. Raw, vivid, honest, fast-paced and beautifully vulgar, In the Mind of Revenge is sure to have you emotionally twisted from beginning to end.

The Life of Theseus

amalia-carosella-iiI’d like to welcome Amalia Carosella to layered Pages today to talk with me about Theseus. Amalia graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

 Who is Theseus?

By the time we meet Theseus in HELEN OF SPARTA, he’s a well-established king and hero of Attica and Athens, a champion of Athena. His days of adventuring and raiding are behind him, and he is focused on maintaining the prosperity of his people, which in the past, he had put at risk – for example, when he made Antiope his wife and brought war with the Amazons to Athens. Naturally when he meets Helen, and she asks him for help, it puts him in conflict with his desire to keep the peace he’s worked so hard and long to build for Athens and Attica, but so does the war Helen warns him is coming if he does not help her…

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Theseus believes in Justice and Honor – he’s known for it. And this is a strength and a weakness for him, because any appeals to him on that front are likely to force his hand. He cannot ignore a call for help, if that person has been wronged. He also loves fiercely. His friends, his children, his wives, his people. All of which can be turned into leverage to manipulate him – though because he is a hero and a king, his power to protect those that he loves prevents all but the strongest threats from becoming problematic. Mostly, this results in a very healthy respect for the gods, who have used his love for his family to humble him repeatedly. But he can be caged by his own sense of honor, too, and manipulated by it – even by his closest friends.

What are his habits?

As a youth, he loved to raid – this was a well-respected and expected hobby for a young man of his stature, along with training in the arts of sword, spear, chariot-driving, and war in general. But perhaps because of his power and position in his later years, his greatest habit is restraint. Theseus knows when to make use of blunt force, and when diplomacy is the stronger tool. He knows, too, when to resort to deception, and who to call upon for help when a task is beyond his personal ability to accomplish. He is a man who knows when to delegate and isn’t afraid of dissenting voices. He’s also generally always happy to help his friends and makes it a point of honor to repay them for their help and service in his own times of need.

theseus
Theseus 

What are the emotional triggers of Theseus and how does he act on them?

As stated above, Theseus loves fiercely. He is most sensitive to matters of betrayal and disloyalty, particularly in his romantic relationships during his later years, after the death of his son, Hippolytus and his wife, Phaedra. As a result of those losses, he is that much more protective of his remaining sons, and because of the role the gods played in the whole affair, he’s also deeply pious, in the hopes that he might prevent the loss of the children and loved ones he has left. He feels, to some degree, that he has been cursed in love – that the gods themselves do not love him, and that this makes him a danger to those he loves.

What do you find most fascinating about him?

Everything. Theseus is a bundle of contradictions – not our standard Bronze Age Hero at all. He protects the weak, including slaves, seems to honor women even as he womanizes, is credited for bringing democracy to Athens as a king, and ultimately causes his own self-destruction by helping his best friend to attempt to steal a goddess for a wife. He makes mistakes, and he repeatedly loses everything – from his father, to his wives, to his son, to his entire kingdom, but he picks himself back up and makes lemonade out of lemons over and over again – until he can’t any longer, anyway. One of the thing I love most though, might be his bromance with Pirithous. Pirithous is SUCH a pirate, he’s a typical Bronze Age raider and so irreverent. In some ways, it makes him a perfect best friend/blood brother to Theseus. Kind of an opposites attract situation. And writing them both together in HELEN OF SPARTA and in TAMER OF HORSES was so much fun!

For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Theseus: Source- Wikimedia Commons/Wonders of sculpture HERE

Interview with Award Winning Author Justine Avery

justine-avery-bragI’d like to welcome award winning- B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Justine Avery to Layered Pages today.  Professionally, Justine Avery first traversed the murky corporate world of writing and designing technical documents to navigate through writing countless travel stories, reviews, personal essays, and articles. She is now the multi-award-winning author of numerous short stories and novelette-length works.

Personally, she has been writing since first falling in love with reading and words themselves, always viewing everything happening around her—and in her imagination—in the form of images translated into poignant phrases and intriguing sentences. She has written under many different names in many different genres, and is finally coming “home” to write, as herself, the stories that transcend genre.

Avery has lived countless stories, takes note of the infinitely more all around, and loves and appreciates every kind. As an avid reader of all genres, both fiction and non, she knows we, as readers, may have preferences, but we’re all—just as naturally—fans of every genre… when we find the stories with real intrigue that have no bounds, that have universal appeal. Those are the stories she prefers to find… and write.

“Story’s in everything we say and do. Story’s what drives us, scares us, changes us. We live stories, imagine them, fear some of them. They’re who we are. I’m a story reader, writer, and seer. I find everything about life and in this big, wide world (and beyond) utterly fascinating. Stories should be the same. I hope you enjoy the hell out of mine.”

Thank you for chatting with me today, Justine! How did you discover indieBRAG?

Thank you for the invitation!  I discovered indieBRAG by relying on a Google search to lead me to award programs or other recognition offered for independently published books and authors—if there were any at all.   I was so glad to find there are organizations, readers, reviewers, etc. devoted to discovering, critiquing, honoring, and publicizing indie books.  And indieBRAG is and does all of these!

the-end-bragPlease tell me about your story, The End.

The End is a novelette-length psychological suspense story with a bit of mystery, drama, and adventure tied in with a techno-thriller element.  It comes to life around a particularly eerie “what if” question: What if you find you’ve actually filmed the scene of your own death—actually caught it on camera?

How is Trevor influenced by his setting?

Trevor’s a “weekend warrior.”  His choice extreme sport is freeride mountain biking.  He spots a line, makes his own path, cuts across the canyonlands of southern Utah.  It’s his much-needed escape from the monotony of corporate life.  In the great outdoors—risking his life, using his learned skills and his own fitness—he temporarily frees himself from the suffocating chokehold of an unfulfilling life.

What are some emotional triggers for Trevor and how does he act on them?

Trevor’s biggest emotional trigger is feeling stifled, caged in, as situations and events in his life are not what he really wants them to be: his job, his marriage, his first child on the way, being confronted with his own mortality in the midst of it all.  He’s constantly striving to juggle his personal needs with his commitments.  And, being a naturally caring individual—often thinking of others before himself—his quest is all the more challenging.

What was your inspiration for this story?

I love a great “what if” question, and many, if not all, of my stories have begun just that simply.  The question popped into mind one day: “what if someone’s death was actually caught on camera—if they had the opportunity to witness their own death?”  A “what if” instantly leads to more questions, the answers being the story: how would the character feel, what would they think, could it actually happen and what would cause it, would they think it was then guaranteed to happen or would they try to fight it, to change fate?  The characters, their own stories and motivations, the mysterious circumstances, all unfold from there.

Will you share an imagery of what Trevor captures on video?

To not spoil the read, I’ll set the scene a bit.  Trevor always wears a helmet-mounted GoPro video camera when he goes for a ride.  He captures every jump, slide, and swerve, all from his point of view.  As The End begins, Trevor sets out on just another Saturday ride as the sun comes up over the canyon.  The reader rides along with him, through every thrill and a spectacular jump.  Only later, does Trevor take a moment to casually play back the footage, relive every exciting moment amid the beautiful setting, and find the video ends in a completely different way than he remembers.

What are the challenges of writing a thriller?

There are many!  A thriller is intensely fun to write as it’s just as thrilling for the writer, in the moment, as it is to read.  But that’s also part of the challenge: to get the pace right, to build up the tension, to make the moments that are most intense, frightening, and urgent for the character to feel the same for the reader—and to try not to give away the ending!  And hopefully, none of the little realizations along the way.

How long did it take you to write this story and what was your process?

Great question.  I keep a record of my daily writing—what I’m working on, how many words written—just to find how my writing habit evolves, and it’s great to recognize when I reach some achievement, such as the most words written in a single month.  There’s also a nice little phone app, Wordly, for keeping track of writing time, goals, rate, etc. for different projects.  So, apparently, The End was written over 13 days, in about 22 hours, but there were many gaps between writing sessions.  I really struggled with the beginning, with creating a character whose hobby was not one of my own.  There were many additional hours spent researching mountain biking itself: the gear, the lingo, the specially designed bike, the entire experience of it.  Luckily, the setting of southern Utah was one I’ve visited and explored myself!

Where can readers buy your book?

The End is available at all Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, iBooks, Smashwords, etc.  My personal site links directly to the book at all retailers: http://justineavery.com/books/the-end.

What are you currently working on?

Another great question!  …because I’m personally so excited about the answer.  I’m currently writing my first novel-length work, a huge idea in the speculative fiction genre.  I’m fighting to finish the first draft by the holidays.  Currently, the novel is over 110,000 words, which will be edited down in revisions—guaranteed.

Please share what you love most about telling a story.

The best question of all!  Hands down, I love the discovery most of all.  Sure, the “magic” of storytelling—how a simple notion, single character, or very tiny idea turns into an entire tale—is terribly fun and a thing to behold; but I love going on an adventure myself, as author.  I love laying down one sentence that leads to another, then another, the whole story unfolding as I type, discovered in the moment by me, and hopefully, just as exciting for the reader-to-be.  What we can’t or wouldn’t or just won’t get around to experiencing in “real life,” we get to experience, learn, and discover as writers.  It’s a never-ending adventure.

Be sure to check out The Life—and Art—of Writing: Justine Avery Interviews Film Director Devon Avery, here!

Justine Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and writers, explorers and imaginers. You can find her at JustineAvery.com, on Twitter.com @Justine_Avery… and between the lines of that new book you’ve been reading.

Justine’s website

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Justine Avery who is the author of, The End, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The End, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

 

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.M. Aucoin

jmaucoin-author-photo-1-bragI’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.M. Aucoin to Layered Pages today to talk with me about his book, Honor Among Thieves. J.M. Aucoin is the product of when a five-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s ‘Zorro’ grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with ‘The Three Musketeers.’

When not writing, J.M. Aucoin practices historical fencing and covers the Boston Bruins for the award-winning blog, Days of Y’Orr. He lives in Heraldwolf’s Stone with his fiancee Kate and their dire-beagle, Rex.

Hi, Justin! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats o the B.R.A.G. Medallion! What is the premise of your story?

Thanks, Stephanie!

Honor Among Thieves is a historical adventure novel set in the early 1600s, during the Henri IV’s reign in France. We follow Darion Delerue, a former soldier turned highwayman, who has only two things of value in life—the hope in his heart and the steel at his side. After a heist on a royal ambassador goes wrong, he’s is thrown into a political plot to undermine the crown, pitting his old life as an honorable soldier against his new life as a thief and bandit. His actions could send France back into civil war.

There’s plenty of swordplay for folks who love a little action and adventure, but wrapped in real historical events for those who want to learn some history in the process.

honore-among-thieves-bragWhy Historical Fiction and how did you chose you setting and period?

I’ve been a fan of swashbucklers since I was a little kid. Every week I’d watch reruns of Guy William’s Zorro on Disney. I also fell in love with Disney’s The Three Musketeers as a child. Both stories captivated me. The idea that you could right wrongs and fight injustice with little more than a sharp blade and your wits was a powerful message that resonated with me as a kid – and has followed me into my adulthood.

I chose the early 17th Century France as an homage to Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. But since he took a sizable portion of France’s 17th Century historical events, I decided to turn back the clock to a time before the Mousquetaires du Roi were formed. By 1609, the French Wars of Religion had come to a close and France was on the rebound. It was a transitional time, free of war but with the threat of it around every corner. It seemed like an untouched setting and era, and a fun playground to work in.

Tell me a little about Darion Delerue strengths and weaknesses?

Sure. Darion is a complicated fellow – like most of us, I’d imagine. He’s an exceptional swordsman. Prudent and courageous, and with a relatively strong moral compass despite his life as a highwayman.

But he’s also stubborn and proud, and a bit raw around the edges when it comes to more diplomatic measures. He’s lived a rough life and it shows in his demeanor, but deep down he wants to evolve into something greater than he is – he’s just not sure if he’s capable of it.

What is an example of political intrigue in your story?

In 1609, Spain was struggling with its war with the United Providences, and France was working hard on an alliance with Dutch against Spain. In a desperate effort to keep the alliance from happening, they sent an ambassador to France to secure a double marriage between the two countries. Of course, Henri IV’s goal in life was to humble the Spanish Hapsburgs, so you can imagine how well that went.

So readers will get to see the interactions between Henri IV and Don Pedro de Toledo. But next to that is a fictional plot line that twists and wraps itself around some of these historical events. And not to give too much away, but an old enemy of Henry IV rears its head because of it all.

How much research went in to writing your story?

A decent amount, but finding good resources was actually difficult. I was surprised to find so little information at my local library (*shakes fist at Boston Public Library*), so I had to get creative. I found some nice (albeit older) research books online via Google Books that were free to download.

I must’ve spent a year and a half or so just researching to give myself a base level of knowledge of the times. I still research while I write, mostly detail stuff to give the story that authentic feel, but I feel pretty comfortable to power ahead as need be.

Who designed your book cover?

A good friend of mine – Graham Sternberg. We know each other via our love for practicing historical swordsmanship. Just so happens that he’s a professional artist. So I tapped him to be the artist for the Hope & Steel series. It was a lot of fun to work with him on the cover – collaborating ideas and seeing it come to life. The book cover creation process is one of my favorite parts of self-publishing.

Where can readers buy your book?

Like 99.9% of self-publishers, you can find Honor Among Thieves on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. For people who hate to give their cash to Amazon, they can buy an autograph copy via my Facebook store for the same price.

What are you working on next?

I’m about half way through the sequel to Honor Among Thieves (currently untitled). I’m also plotting some short fantasy adventures, too. Always seems to be more ideas than there is time to work on. Can I buy a few extra hours in the day? I’d really love to write all the things.

Thank you, Justin!

Thank you!

Justin’s social media links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

instagram

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.M. Aucoin who is the author of, Honore Among Thieves, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Honor Among Thieves, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

 

 

Interview with Author Christopher Holt

Christopher Holt

Hello Christopher! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion What an honor. Tell me a little about your book, The Winter Chaser.

I wanted to write a true dystopian novel. By that I mean an adventure story set in the future but in reality it is a social commentary on the present age.

How did you come up with the idea for your story?

By being observant. For instance when travelling around London in the bus I eavesdrop on conversations. I always carry a small notebook and record current trends in language, fashion, the rise of “isms”, and new dogmas, especially in health and political correctness. All these I extend into parody.

The Winter chaser

Why did you choose the 2301? And how do you visualize the world in that time?

2301 is sufficiently far ahead in the future to give conjecture a free hand but not so distant as to become fantasy. It is still in historical reach of my so-called Template Year 2000.

In your book description you say, “Brit Modern idolises youth, sex, perfect physiques and celebrity culture.” Which is pretty much par for the course now in our youth. Is there a message your young reads can come away with in this story?

In “The Winter Chaser” it is not the young but the middle aged and elderly who are most preoccupied with social networking, appearance and celebrity culture etc. The reaction against these obsessions comes from the young people themselves, many of them even refusing to carry the obligatory mobile phone or to engage in compulsory networking.

What are Wyngates weaknesses and strengths?

Wyngate is obdurate, outspoken, judgmental and sometimes cruelly mischievous. However, he risks his life to take a brave stand against the herd mentality forced upon the citizens of Brit Modern and is the first to flee the frontier into the forbidden territory of UnBritain.

Is this a stand-alone novel?

No. Next year I hope to introduce Winter Chaser 2-”Europa”.

The premise for your story is really fascinating. I’m sure your readers will be delighted when your second books comes out.

How long did it take to write, The Winter Chaser and what advice would you give to someone who wanted to write in this genre?

It took me two years to write “The Winter Chaser”. In writing a dystopian novel I think one should avoid becoming too imaginatively involved with the technologies of the future. It is not meant to be science fiction. Carrying a notebook forces me to be a student of the here and now.

I would have to agree with you on that….

Who are your influences?

Writers such as HG Wells, CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley. My father was something of a prophet of the future and he had a deep influence on me. I also owe a debt to modern satirists like the columnists in “Private Eye”.

Where in your home do you like to write?

No particular place. If the weather is good I like to write outside-”plain air” prose seems to have more sparkle. Otherwise I work at my desk or in the Reference section of my local library.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

A good friend introduced me to Indie BRAG. It is a unique institution and a remarkable supporter of new writers.

Where can readers but your book?

The Winter Chaser “can be bought on Amazon either as a paperback or on Kindle.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Christopher Holt, who is the author of, The Winter Chaser, one of our medallion at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Winter Chaser merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

Interview with Award Winning Author Michael Prescott

I liked to introduce Michael Prescott, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion
 Michael, please tell us about your book, Riptide.
I came up with the idea for Riptide pretty much by accident, when I was writing an e-mail to another author. I was spit balling far-fetched story ideas, and one of them concerned a woman who finds the diary of Jack the Ripper hidden in her cellar and realizes there may be a family connection. After typing a few words about that, I sat back and thought, “Actually, that’s not bad.” I strengthened it by adding the idea that the woman’s emotionally troubled brother may be re-creating the Ripper’s crimes in the present day. I set the story in Venice, California, which of course posed the challenge of trying to explain how a killer from London’s East End could wind up on the West Coast of America. The story was a little different from some of the others I’ve done–a little higher concept. I thought it worked out well, but when I tried to sell it to traditional publishers, I hit a wall. Although I had published twenty previous novels, by the time my agent submitted Riptide the publishing industry was in disarray, and it was very difficult to sell a work of fiction unless people thought it was the next Da Vinci Code. Eventually I decided to self-publish the book, not expecting it to sell many copies, but mainly just wanting to get it into print. As things worked out, the e-book edition sold extremely well, as have the digital editions of my other titles. At this point, surprisingly enough, I’ve become one of the bestselling e-book writers in the United States, with about 1.1 million ebooks sold so far, and I’ve even hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. It’s a whole new world.

riptide-bragRiptide looks like an intense read. Was there any scenes you found challenging to write due to the subject matter?
Well, I’ve been writing this kind of thing for a long time now—I wrote my first thriller, a horror novel, in 1986—so I’m pretty much accustomed to the challenges posed by rising action or suspense scenes. The research required to do the historical flashbacks was an unusual feature of Riptide, and probably the aspect of it that I enjoyed the most. The most challenging thing was trying to make the central character, Jennifer Silence, interesting and relatable. Some characters come together very easily, and others come together only with great effort or not at all. I’m not sure Jennifer ever came to life as fully as I would have liked. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen the matter how hard you work at it.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Riptide went through quite a few drafts over a period of about three years, but I wasn’t writing it continuously throughout that time. The actual writing may have taken a year or year and a half–it’s hard to say. I revised it extensively before self-publishing. I changed the ending and rewrote or added many scenes.

What is the most surprising thing you learned in creating your story?

The various facts I learned about Jack the Ripper surprised me. The Hollywood version of his crimes is not very accurate. His victims were not young, beautiful women but mostly older, badly malnourished, and alcoholic. He does not seem to have shown any particular surgical skill. Most—possibly all—of the postcards and letters attributed to him were hoaxes. The nickname Jack the Ripper was probably a hoax and not the killer’s name for himself. There were also many small details that I found interesting. For instance, the first sneakers were invented by the London police. In an effort to dampen their footsteps and make it easier to sneak up on Jack, they attached strips of rubber to the soles of their boots.

grave-of-angels-bragWhat is your next book project?

After Riptide, I wrote Grave of Angels, another novel set in Los Angeles. Grave of Angels features a security consultant specializing in celebrity protection, whose most troubled client, a teenage star, is abducted by a homicidal psychopath. The book was picked up by Thomas & Mercer, a division of Amazon Publishing, and comes out on August 7.

What books have most influenced your life?

I’ve always been a big reader. Even as a small child, I tried writing a “novel” about a couple of birds who are captured and put in a cage and must arrange their escape—twenty-five pages of big, childish handwriting in block letters. I read a lot of science-fiction and pulp fiction when I was growing up–Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar series, as well as the Shadow and Doc Savage. I went through an Ayn Rand phase in college. Later I became interested in thrillers and horror fiction–Ken Follett and Stephen King were two of my favorites. At a certain point in my adult life I decided to brush up on the classics and devoted a lot of time to reading ancient literature, such as the Greek tragedies and epics, the Bible, and the epic of Gilgamesh; I also read the plays of Shakespeare and other major works of English literature. These days I mainly read nonfiction and the occasional classic. From a practical standpoint, Stephen King’s early horror novels like Cujo and The Shining had the most influence on me because they inspired the horror novels I wrote at the beginning of my career.

What do you think contributes to making a writer successful in self-publishing?

I think it’s helpful to get professional feedback, if possible. A freelance editor can greatly improve your work. An experienced proofreader or copy editor can also make a big difference. I’d advise creating the best cover art you possibly can; if your Photoshop skills are limited, hire a pro to do it for you. The same holds true for formatting. Just because an e-book or print on demand book is self-published, it doesn’t have to look amateurish. I’d also advise promoting the book on Facebook and in Amazon.com’s Meet Our Authors discussion forum.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

These days the stigma of self-publishing is rapidly disappearing. Rather than spending a lot of time and effort trying to obtain a literary agent and then a traditional publisher, you might be better off going the self-publishing route. If your self-published books find a big enough audience, agents and traditional publishers will be contacting you.

What is your favorite quote?

“The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.” — Sir James Jeans

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Author Bio:

Born in 1960, Michael Prescott grew up in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University, majoring in Film Studies. In 1981 he moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote scripts for independent producers and worked as a magazine freelancer, archival researcher, and editor. In 1986 he sold the first of five horror novels, then moved on to suspense novels, some of which appeared under the pen name Brian Harper. Praised for “brilliant elements of psychological horror” (Publishers Weekly), Prescott ‘s novels have sold more than one million copies in print editions, and have found a new audience among ebook readers. At last count he had sold more than one million ebooks, making him one of today’s bestselling ebook writers.

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We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Michael Prescott who is the author of Riptide , one of our medallion honorees at http://www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Riptide merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indieBRAG

Thank you Michael and indieBRAG for this lovely interview.

Stephanie
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