Interview with Author Cheryl Landmark

1.  Who or what inspired you to become an author?


From as far back as I can remember, reading and writing have been my passions. Even as a young child in elementary school, I was constantly scribbling short stories and poems on scraps of paper and reading them to my friends. As I grew older, I started to write full-length novels in many different genres…romance, mystery, young adult and suspense in the vein of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. But, it was fantasy that really began to pique my interest and gave full rein to my overly-active, fertile imagination.

Probably my very first favorite author and inspiration was Carolyn Keene, who wrote the Nancy Drew girl detective series.  I read every one of her books I could get my hands on and even attempted to write a similar series of my own when I was in high school.  It didn’t get very far, but I still have the two or three manuscripts that I wrote back then.  Later on, Anne McCaffrey became one of my much loved science fiction/fantasy authors. I became besotted with her dragons the first time I read “Dragonriders of Pern” and have hungrily devoured many more of the books in the Pern series since. I have many other favorites as well–way too numerous to name them all–but a few of them include J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, J.K. Rowling, Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and Robin Hobb.

2.  What is your favorite book you have written and why?

Well, of course, all of my “babies” are loved and hold their own special place in my heart.  But, if I had to choose between them, my latest fantasy POOL OF SOULS is probably the one I love best so far.  It’s very character-driven, and I tried to write interesting and humorous interactions between the characters.  It’s dark and serious in places, but there is also a lot of levity and humor.  I had a ball writing it.

3.  Please tell us a little about your two fantasy books WIND AND FIRE and POOL OF SOULS.

WIND AND FIRE is the story of a young woman named Tenya, who is plunged into a world of terrifying danger and evil as she struggles to save her mother, the Mistress of the Wind, and the world of Tellaron from a Demon Master.  Tenya must quickly learn to control the power of the white fire that runs through her veins in order to accomplish her mission.

This book was originally published by Asylett Press in 2009 and has recently been re-edited, reprinted and furnished with a brand new cover on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace.

My latest fantasy novel, POOL OF SOULS, follows twenty-two year old Cazlina Narzin and her loyal mare, Miris, on their adventures as they journey to join a rebellion against a renegade queen and her soul-killing talisman, the Pool of Souls, which drains the energies and life forces from its victims.

This book is also available on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace.

4.  What is your next book project?

I’m currently working on a dog detective series, which I hope will be published early this summer.  After that, it’s on to a sequel to my young adult adventure novel SHADOWS IN THE BROOK.  And then…well, let’s just say I have visions of more fantasies in the near future!

5.  What is your favorite quote?

 This quote from Groucho Marx cracks me up every time I see it!

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

6.  What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Never give up, first and foremost.  If your passion is writing, stick with it through thick and thin.  There will undoubtedly be times when you hit a snag and it seems like you just can’t get past that particular roadblock.  But, don’t let a temporary hitch discourage you.  Let the story percolate for a while in your head; don’t force it.  Eventually, those characters and scenes and dialogues will start flowing again and you’ll find you can’t get them down on paper fast enough!

Secondly, don’t close yourself off to constructive criticism and honest, helpful suggestions.  Be flexible and open-minded.  We don’t all become bestselling authors the first time around, or even the second or third.  We can all grow, learn and improve as we go along, so don’t become angry or resentful if a reader says they don’t like something about your book.  See if you can take something positive from it and apply it to your future writing to make your next book even better.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for this opportunity to chat with you and your readers! 

Author Bio:

Cheryl Landmark lives in a small hamlet called Gros Cap just west of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada on the magnificent shores of Lake Superior with her husband, Mike, and faithful canine companion.  She has always been an insatiable reader even as a child and that has inspired her to create her own fantasy worlds.  She particularly enjoys young adult and adult fantasy in both her reading and writing, followed closely by mystery and suspense.

 When she’s not engrossed in her writing, she is working fulltime as a sales analyst, reading, doing challenging jigsaw puzzles, or enjoying the great outdoors.

Cheryl is the author of two fantasy novels called WIND AND FIRE and POOL OF SOULS and a young adult adventure called SHADOWS IN THE BROOK.

Thank you Cheryl for this wonderful interview!

Stephanie

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Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus by Victoria Grossack

Greek Mythology can be tedious to read at times. However this story of Jocasta was so refreshing and the story line flowed beautifully. I didn’t want the story to end. When I found out from Victoria that there would be a sequel, I was delighted! If you haven’t read about Jocasta then this is the story for you. A must read!
Stephanie

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I felt the characters in this story lacked substance and unique personalities that you would see in Kate Morton’s other stories and I felt the characters didn’t really connect with each other. There were several situations that were never fully explained and was left to interpretation and I was disappointed with the conclusion. I felt there was no closure to the story. The ending fell flat.

However, the idea Kate had for the story line was good. I did enjoy reading parts of this book and I thought about the characters for sometime after reading it and thought about how things might have been different for them and the choices they made in their lives. I did like how Kate Morton described some of the scenes. They were written in a way…. I felt I was right there in the story experiencing them for myself. 
I rated this book three stars.

Stephanie

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseine

          
 I don’t remember a time where I cried so much over a book. I was so outraged in the beginning where Amir would be cruel towards Hassan. When Hassan was so loyal to him and how Amir didn’t protect Hassan from rape. 
Having said that, I felt Amir was a victim of circumstance and a victim of a fathers guilt. I didn’t admire Baba for hiding such a big secret. He should have been honest to Hassan and Amir from the beginning. That was only the right to do. Amir had to over come so much of his fathers mistakes and treatment towards him. But in the end he redeems himself from the mistakes he had made. I was so disturbed when Baba died without telling Amir the truth about his family and what he had kept from everyone.

Hassan was a good boy and grew up still courageous, strong, loyal and never lost his integrity. Even after everything he had gone through.

This was a moving story that will haunt me for a very long time.

I rated this story five stars.
Stephanie

Interview with Susan Higginbotham

1.  Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I can’t point to any specific inspiration because I have been writing almost as long as I remember. There have been times when my writing took a backseat to other pursuits, but never a time when I gave up on the idea of authorship altogether.
2. What is your favorite book you have written and why?
They all have a special place in my heart, but The Traitors Wife is the book that got my career as a novelist started, so it’s probably my sentimental favorite.
3. Who is your favorite character you wrote about in Her Highness, the Traitor and who is your least favorite?
When I started writing Her Highness, it was originally going to be about only Frances. Then I came across the letter that Jane Dudley wrote to Lady Paget begging for help in saving her husbands life, and it moved me so much, I knew I wanted to tell her story as well as Frances’s. So for a time, Jane Dudley became my favorite characterto the point where she eclipsed poor Frances. But as I got to know Frances better, I became very fond of her too. John Dudley also endeared himself to me. I even developed a sneaky affection for the Duchess of Somerset, to the point that I’d like to give her a novel of her own someday.
I find it very hard to dislike any of the characters in Her Highnessat least any of the major characters, because I think they all had some redeeming quality. Collectively I dislike the men who deserted Jane Grey’s cause at an opportune time and left John Dudley to face the queens wrath alone.
4.  What is your next book project?
I’m working on a novel about Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, who was a niece of Henry VIII. As a young woman, Margaret had the bad judgment to become secretly engaged to Lord Thomas Howard and got thrown into the Tower as a result. Later, Margaret schemed to marry her son Henry, Lord Darnley to Mary, Queen of Scots. It was a match which would in tragedyand which would ultimately put the Stuarts on the throne.
5. What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 
Read widely in your chosen genre, so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t and so you can develop the skill to recognize when your work needs to be improved. Listen to constructive criticism and be willing to learn from it. Above all, write! Too many people wait for the perfect time and place to write and because of that never get anything done. You don’t need the perfect writing nook; you don’t need to retire or to have the kids in school. You just need your imagination and your passion to tell a story, and if its a story worth telling, you need to make the time to tell it.
Thanks for interviewing me!
 Bio:
Susan Higginbotham has worked as an attorney and as an editor and currently works for a legal publisher. She lives in North Carolina with her family. Her first novel, The Traitors Wife, won the gold medal for Historical/Military Fiction in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Susan has written two novels, The Traitors Wife and Hugh and Bess, set in fourteenth-century England, and two novels, The Stolen Crown and The Queen of Last Hopes, set during the Wars of the Roses. Her forthcoming novel, Her Highness, the Traitor, is her first foray into Tudor fiction.