Interview with Meredith Allard

Meredith, thank you for chatting with me today about your book, When It Rained at Hembry Castle. Does Hembry Castle exist and if not, was there a real castle that was your inspiration?

Hembry Castle is very much a figment of my imagination, though two real life places served as the inspiration for the exterior: Scotney Castle and Wentworth Castle, both in England, of course. The picture on the book’s cover is of Scotney Castle. The interior of Hembry Castle was largely influenced by Pittock Mansion, which can be found in Portland, Oregon. Primarily, I used photos I found on Pinterest to help me describe the interior and exterior of Hembry Castle.


Please tell me a little about your story.

When It Rained at Hembry Castle is a love story set in Victorian England. The novel is about Edward Ellis, a rising author, and Daphne Meriwether, the American niece of the 9th Earl of Staton. Daphne is new to England and she must learn how to live in the Downton Abbey-like world her father’s family lives in. It’s a blossoming romance for Edward and Daphne, and there’s some mystery thrown in involving Daphne’s uncle, Richard, the 9th Earl of Staton.

What are the common movements your main characters make?

All my novels are about characters who are or see themselves as outsiders in one way or another. In When It Rained at Hembry Castle, Daphne is very much an outsider, being an American in England who is unfamiliar with the aristocratic world her father grew up in. Edward is also an outsider of sorts. He’s the grandson of servants who is working hard to make his way as a writer. I think all of my main characters mean to do the right thing, but whether their choices are correct or not always remains to be seen.

What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?

I think both Edward and Daphne are largely positive people. Neither one of them are prone to complaining and they try to make the best of whatever is thrown their way. I hope this adds a positive, hopeful tone to the story.

What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?

For Daphne, she’s triggered by her grandmother’s insistence that she conform to the aristocratic way of life. For Edward, he’s triggered by his love for Daphne and his frustration at the obstacle that is keeping them apart. Daphne humors her grandmother and on the outside she seems to be conforming, though she’s a bit of a rebel and isn’t as complacent as her grandmother thinks. Edward, in typical man fashion, does nothing, hoping the problem will go away.

What do you like most about writing stories that take place in the past?

I’ve loved history since I was in school, and I even toyed with the idea of majoring in history in college. Writing historical fiction is perfect for me because it a combination of the two things I’m most interested in—history and writing. I have a funny habit of writing stories set in times I’m not all that familiar with, which is fine because that’s part of the fun for me, researching the history. When It Rained at Hembry Castle is actually the exception to that because I was already pretty familiar with Victorian England.

Describe Victorian England in your eyes.

My knowledge of Victorian England came from my love of Dickens’ novels, which started for me in college, but when I researched the era as I was writing Hembry Castle I realized that the time was much more complicated than I first realized. Yes, there was the poverty and the darkness of Dickens’ descriptions, but it was also a time of great change. The Victorian era spanned nearly 70 years, and England in 1901 was very different than England in 1837. By the end of the Victorian era, we can begin to see inklings of the modern era that we live in today. Since Hembry Castle takes place from 1870-1872, the story is happening right in the middle of the Victorian era.

What are some of the romantic parts to the story readers can expect?

My stories tend to focus more on the falling in love aspect of romance. Edward and Daphne have a few obstacles they have to overcome in order to be together. Even acknowledging that they want to be together is the first hurdle. After they admit to themselves that they care for each other, Edward has a big secret he’s keeping from Daphne. How Daphne reacts to the secret remains to be seen.

How long did it take to write your story and where in your home do you hone in your craft?

Hembry Castle took me two years. I returned to college in 2014, and of course that takes a lot of my time. I had a lot of research to complete for this book, and it took me a little time to figure out the point of view. Normally, I write novels with either a one person or two person point of view, but I finally realized that Hembry needed to allow more characters their moment in the sun. Since I live in a small apartment, my computer is set up in my bedroom. I know they say don’t keep your work where you sleep, but oh well. I have a nice view from my bedroom window so it works for me.

What is up next for you?

Fans of my Loving Husband Trilogy will be happy to know that I’m writing the prequel to the series, called Down Salem Way. Like the first book in the series, Her Dear & Loving Husband, it takes place in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials.



About the Author

Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle. Her newest release, the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, is a great read for fans of Downton Abbey.

Visit Meredith online at You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  Pinterest, and Goodreads.



A Writer’s Life-Part II with Valerie Biel

Valerie Biel BRAG II

I’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Valerie Biel to Layered Pages to talk about-further in-depth-her life as a writer.

Valerie, what are your goals as a writer?

Initially, I had no goals. I had a far-off idea that someday I would write all the stories building up in my mind, but I put it off. I was busy. I had a job. I had kids, a husband, a house, laundry . . . I meant to write but I let all these things override that desire, along with the self-defeating voice in my head that told me my writing was unimportant in the vast sea of amazing writers in the world.

Then in 2003, my oldest sister died after a one-year battle with terminal cancer. At the time, of course, we were just devastated, but never thought that this very rare cancer would recur in our family. Fast forward to 2008 and a second sister is diagnosed with the same terminal cancer. My siblings and I quickly realized that this cancer had a genetic component, making us all potentially susceptible. Even without the possibility that this cancer could strike at any time, the loss of two siblings caused me to reflect on my priorities.

I made a life-affirming decision to embrace my writing, and all the opportunities in front of me. I decided that my dreams couldn’t wait any longer. I decided that it didn’t matter if I ever made the New York Times’ Bestseller list. I would write for me—just for the satisfaction of sharing my thoughts, my ideas, and my stories.

In 2009, I made this vow and began that elusive novel. I didn’t tell anyone other my closest family members I was writing it. Internally, I had a five-year plan to publication, but I didn’t voice this either. I completed the novel in 2010. I was encouraged by early critiques and contest accolades and kept going. For the next three and a half years, the manuscript was alternately being edited and marinating while I wrote two middle-grade novels. Finally, in 2014 I achieved my goal of publishing my debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany.

Now, my goal is to write as much as possible every day. I have story ideas stacked up and waiting for my attention.

What are the boundaries you push as a writer?

I wouldn’t have said that I was pushing any boundaries (other than the amount of sleep I need each night) until I received a few mixed reactions from particularly religious friends. My Circle of Nine series highlights a Celtic pagan culture akin to modern-day Wicca. Some of my plot-lines also address the conflict between the early Christian church and pagan customs and the subjugation of women by a patriarchal society. Oh yes, and there’s magic! Lots and lots of magic. What’s funny is that I never set out to push boundaries. I set out to tell a certain story the best way that I could.

What are the changing emotions you have as a writer?

Ha – this is funny. I once saw a cartoon that highlighted the emotion of an author throughout the day and it went something like this.

I really suck.

Hey, this isn’t so bad!

This is brilliant. I rock!

Nope. My writing sucks.

That about sums it up. In seriousness though, we all go through bouts of self-doubt no matter what occupation we’re in, but I think it is harder in the arts when you are creating something that is so personal to you. I am much more confident at promoting myself and my writing now than I was when I first started. And I have a much thicker skin when it comes to criticism. You will never please everyone! When I get down about things, I can look to my successes and feel quite good about what I’ve accomplished. I know writers always say they write because they have to write. A better way for me to put this is that I am my whole person when I write. Allowing myself to embrace my need to be creative, brings a lightness to my world and a feeling of self-worth that is different from the other areas of accomplishment in my life.

Circle of Nine Valerie Biel II

What are your personal motivations in story-telling?

My main motivation is to write the very best story I can, which means that I work hard to create something that is both entertaining and intriguing and possibly makes the reader see the world just a little bit differently.

Define your writing style.

That one is hard for me. Hmmmm – define my writing style.

When writing fiction, I try to keep my modern-story style very true to the rhythm of current conversation patterns – particularly teen dialog when writing YA. The historical portions of my stories require more thought. The formality with which I construct the sentences becomes much more deliberate to convey the correct sense of time and place. I am very particular about word choice in my historical stories and double check that certain phrases would indeed have been used in that era.

I have this “thing” about including educational-type details in my stories . . . mostly this is a matter of good research and (I feel) gives my stories an authenticity about the era.

I use the word just too much and usually take out half (or more) of the “justs” when editing.

I don’t use commas enough. Thank goodness for my critique partners who are excellent grammarians.

I like writing in first person and third person equally well, but I always write in past tense. I’ve written one piece of flash fiction just recently in present tense and it won an award, so maybe I should try that more.

I wish I lived in England so I could spell favourite and colour this way because it looks so much cooler. And, because I want to call my cell phone my mobile.

Five sentences that describe your craft.

I have a vivid recollection of what it felt like to be different ages, which is why I like writing for teens and tweens so much.

Writing allows me the freedom to indulge my love of history through the research needed for my stories set in different eras.

Asking the question “why?” is as important as asking the question “why not?” whether in life or in story construction.

I attempt to create accessible stories that transport the reader to another world or place or time, entertaining and possibly enlightening them along the way.

I write the stories that I want to read.

Valerie Biel’s love for travel inspires her novels for teens and adults. When she’s not writing or traveling, she’s wrangling her overgrown garden, doing publicity work for the local community theatre, and reading everything she can get her hands on. She lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and three children and dreams regularly of a beautiful cottage on the Irish coast where she can write and write and write.

Her debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany has been honored as a 2015 Kindle Book Award Finalist, a finalist in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest as well as being a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

 Author Websites:





Amazon Author Page

Book Trailer



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree T.K. Thorne

TK THorne II

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree T.K. Thorne today to talk with me about her award winning book, Noah’s Wife. T.K.’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district, City Action Partnership, as the executive director. Both careers and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel Noah’s Wife. Her first non-fiction book, Last Chance for Justice gives the investigators’ perspectives of the 1963 Sixteenth Street church bombing case and was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. Rave reviews have followed her newest historical novel about the unnamed wife of Lot, Angels at the Gate, which has just been announced as a finalist for IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin awards! She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons and writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap.

 How did you discover indieBRAG?

 At the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference, I happened to sit next to Geri Cloustan, the president of indieBRAG, and we started talking.  I was excited by the concept of having a way to screen a book’s quality for readers who love discovering good indie books, so I took her card, looked into it, and submitted Noah’s Wife.

Tell me about your book, Noah’s Wife.

Noah's Wife II

This is really the backstory of the tale of Noah’s flood from the perspective of Noah’s wife. The Bible only mentions her with one sentence, so I decided to make her the focus and tell her story. I wanted the retelling to be supported by what was known about the science and history of the time period.  Noah’s wife is Na’amah, a beautiful young shepherdess in ancient Turkey who has what today we would term Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Na’amah sees the world through unique eyes. Her first words are, “My name, Na’amah means beautiful or pleasant.  I am not always pleasant, but I am beautiful.” Her only wish is to watch the sheep on

her beloved hillside, a desire shattered by the hatred of her brother and the love of two men. Her savant abilities and penchant to speak truth force her to walk a dangerous path in an age of change—a time of challenge to the goddess’ ancient ways, when cultures clash, and the earth itself is unstable. When foreign raiders kidnap her, Na’amah’s epic journey to escape and return home becomes an attempt to save her people from the disaster only she knows is coming.

 What are some of the historical facts or significance about your book?

 Noah’s Wife is based on four years of studying Asperger’s Syndrome, historical, archaeological, geological, and cultural information about the land and time period, as well as a fabulous trip to Turkey!  Here are a few highlights:

  • Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the sunken Titanic discovered a lost civilization under the Black Sea, confirming that it was once a fresh water lake that flooded in a cataclysmic event around 5500 BCE.
  • The oldest known worshiped deity was female.  The role of the feminine in the divine was also entwined with early Judaism and keeps reappearing throughout history.
  • One in every 88 persons has a form of autism.  The choice to make Noah’s wife an Asperger savant stemmed from personal experience in my life and gives the story a distinctive perspective.

Please describe the setting and period of your story.

Several theories about the flood that inspired the Noah’s ark episode in the Bible. It seems very likely that the story was actually borrowed from what is the earliest known written tale—the epic poem of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was unearthed in the cities of Babylon and Ur in Mesopotamia.  In the Bible, Abraham is said to have come from Ur. As I mentioned, scientists have discovered that a cataclysmic event during the Copper Age changed a fresh water lake north of Turkey into a salt water sea—the Black Sea—causing it to overflow its banks, reverse the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and flood the Middle East as far as the Mesopotamian cities of Ur and Babylon. Adira’s adventure begins in the green hills just south of the Black Sea. Her journey takes her across the expanse of Anatolia and some of the land’s natural wonders.

For those who do not know the meaning of the Copper Age, could you please explain?

The Copper Age (also called the Chalcolithic Age) is the period of human history that occurred after the Neolithic (Stone Age) when mankind had discovered how to make implements with copper. Interestingly, this discovery did not happen at the same time across the world. For this part of the world, it occurred between 9,000 to 7,000 years ago. Villages and communities nestled in the hills just south of the Black Sea (where Noah’s Wife is set) were very advanced in the technology, even ahead of Egypt. In fact, archeologists have traced the path of those peoples fleeing the Black Sea flood by the pottery they left behind, and believe the spreading of their culture stimulated the technical advancement of Europe as well as other areas, significantly affecting the entire world’s history.

Please tell me a little about the cultural experiences you had in Turkey.

Turkey is an amazing place. The city of Istanbul, which straddles two continents, is full of history, stunning architecture, and an eclectic mixture of old and new, but the majority of Turkey stretches out in a land mass to the east of the Mediterranean known as Anatolia. The word means “Land of the Mother.” In ancient times the mother goddess was worshiped there, and even though 98% of today’s population is Muslim, there are tribes who trace their roots back thousands of years for whom treating women with respect and giving them status is so important that they advise their girls not to marry outside the tribe, lest they be unhappy. All over Turkey, I was welcomed warmly. The people in the Anatolia countryside live

connected to the land and produce beautiful rugs, pottery and other crafts with family designs that go back many generations.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I stole the idea from the international bestseller, Ahab’s Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund, because I liked the simplicity of the title and the concept of taking one line from a famous book and building a totally new story around the old one. After it was published, I had the opportunity to meet Sena for tea while she was in residence in Fairhope, Alabama. She “blessed” my title, read the book and gave me a lovely review.

What are the challenges of building a new story around an old one?

Both of my novels are taken from biblical stories involving an unnamed woman (Noah’s wife and Lot’s wife in Angels at the Gate) whose life is skipped over in the text. In Judaism, writings or oral stories that further enlighten or enrich the primary text is called midrash. In a loose sense, these novels are midrash, or reinterpretations. I wanted to tell the woman’s story, to make her a real, whole person in what I felt was a historically accurate time and culture, leaving moralistic or religious interpretations to the reader to add or not. It was often fun to twist the traditional, such as deciding the white dove in the flood story might have actually been a white parrot with his own personality. The challenge was the several-year journey of research needed to authentically represent a time period that existed before any written material and to make an ancient story both familiar and new.

Who designed your book cover?

My sister, Laura Katz Parenteau, who is a graphic artist, designed the beautiful cover. We wanted to avoid a religious connotation that might misrepresent the story and settled on a composition she drew—a woman with flowing hair lying on her side, facing the sunrise. It can also be viewed as a scene of mountains with water. I love the fact that the cover has layers of meaning, just as the story has, and the fact that my talented sister designed it. She has created and crowned herself “Queen” of the T.K. Thorne Super Fan Club, which she has a lot of fun with. Any fans out there can contact her at

Thanks so much for letting me be a part of Layered Pages.  I’m proud to be associated with IndieBrag! And I love hearing from readers.

Author Website

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview T.K. Thorne who is the author of Noah’s Wife, 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, Noah’s Wife, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money




Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree G.J. Reilly

Garrith OReilly BRAG I

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree G.J. Reilly to Layered Pages! By day, G. J. is a teacher of (mostly) ICT and Computing in the South Wales valleys, where he lives with his long-suffering wife and 2.4 cats. 

He has an eclectic selection of hobbies, from playing a number of musical instruments with varying degrees of competence to learning the art of contact juggling and teaching sword-based martial arts. Having gained his degree, he spent ten years working in industry, before deciding to change career and head into education.

With an interest in high fantasy, contemporary fantasy and science fiction from a young age, it comes as no surprise that his first work falls into the young adult contemporary fantasy genre.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

Before I answer that, I have to say that I count my lucky stars every day that I did!

I’ve been writing seriously since 2009, but I’ve only really discovered the indie writing community in the last twelve months. When I joined the Goodreads Kindle User Forum in early 2015, I had no idea how vast that community was, but one thing led to another and I soon noticed indieBRAG’s name on my screen time and again.

After looking at the quality of work submitted by other honorees at the time, I didn’t think that ‘Inquisitor’ would stand a chance of being accepted, so I put it out of my mind. Then, sometime during that summer, another writer friend brought indieBRAG up in conversation again and persuaded me to send my details. So I did. Then I forgot all about it again, so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when my little book was rejected.

Well, I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone who’s received that confirmation from Geri how it feels! Now I visit the site every day just to marvel at the company I’m keeping and to check out the blog and read the interviews.

Please tell me about your book, Inquisitor; The Book of Jerrick – Part 1

‘Inquisitor’ is a contemporary fantasy novel for Young Adults that centres on an ongoing war between two ancient factions.

The night that Michael Ware is born, his uncle is murdered, leaving him a locked leather book that has been fought over for centuries. In the weeks following his uncle’s funeral, the opening of the thirtieth Braxton Academy is announced. To everyone’s astonishment, they say that they are going to offer scholarship places to any pupil able to pass the entrance examination. Unknown to the general public; the academy is a front for a society of powerful psychics known as the Inquisition, who are replenishing their ranks for their campaign against the nomadic sorcerers of the Elder Council. And Michael soon discovers that the truth depends on your point of view and that comfort and opulence come at a heavy price.

Set in and around an alternative, modern day London, ‘Inquisitor’ draws on inspiration from One Thousand and One Nights and Grimm’s Fairytales but isn’t a direct retelling of any of our old favourites. Instead, as a reader, you’ll be immersed totally familiar, yet with some fantastic differences and unexpected twists.

‘Inquisitor’ is a book that I hope readers of all ages can enjoy as a bedtime story or something to take your mind off a tedious train ride to work although it does have a good subtext for people who like to read between the lines. Each book in the series is a snapshot of the lives of the main characters as they live through an ongoing war.

Without giving too much away, the main theme of this first book is deceit. I’m not talking about little white lies; I’m talking about the whopping great lies that fester and, hopefully, readers will enjoy trying to decide who they’re rooting for before the end of this adventure. I want them to feel the indecision that Michael has to live with. Most of all, I want their loyalties to waver from one book to the next.


How did you come up with the title for your book?

I was looking for a title that summed up the mystery of the story in one word. Inquisitor – for me, it’s a word that has a lot of superstition surrounding it and an almost mythological quality that people still recognize (even if they only associate it with a famous Monty Python sketch that nobody expects).

It also conjures an image in the mind of what an inquisitor should look like. Think about it – what image comes to mind when someone says ‘Nurse’, or ‘Bishop’, or ‘Undertaker’? Given the plot, it might have seemed blatantly obvious to have chosen that particular word for the title, but I must have gone through a list of twenty others before I made the final selection.

Who designed your book cover?

I did. Those hands around that big ball of fire … they’re my hands, wedding band and all. Actually, the photograph was taken by my wife (don’t worry, she gets royalties). I’d been trying all day to get into the right pose during the 5 seconds the camera was counting down. 60 seconds in Bec’s hands and I had the perfect shot! Then it took a lot of hours of online tutorials and a great deal of patience with a well-known photo editing suite to get it looking the way I wanted it to.

Tell me about Michael Ware and how you developed his character.

When we meet Michael the most he has to worry about is how he’ll survive the move to his new school. He’s of that age when everything is full of wonder and the horrors of life aren’t something he should be thinking about, but often does.

Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve heard conversations that would raise a lot of eyebrows in many circles. Young adults aren’t just talking about football (both kinds), games and relationships. They’re talking about politics, pregnancy, marriage, education, economy and immigration. They might not entirely understand those issues, but they’re giving them some serious thought. One or two reviews have mentioned that Michael and his friends seem older than the age I’ve put them at, and it’s true to a certain extent. But I wanted to give them the credit that the people I teach often don’t receive.

I didn’t want ‘Inquisitor’ to be a rags-to-riches story, so I made the Wares a middle-class family. To be fair, most of the young people I teach now come from the same kinds of families, with a few exceptions up or down the ladder. I was also definite that I wanted Michael’s family to be alive and as loving as any other. I think it makes him more relatable, especially considering what he’s going to go through in the future. But above all, I wanted him to be the average person, even after his talents are discovered because I find overtly brave or sensitive characters unrealistic.

During his character development, I tried to give Michael an emotional range that would make him an accessible character for both male and female readers.  In one scene, we see him break down on Tamara’s shoulder after a heated argument with his best friend. In another, he’s about to profess his love but is stopped before he can. A lot of adult readers will read that last passage in particular and feel that those emotions are too advanced for a twelve-year-old, but young adults are more open about their feelings now than they were when we were their age (with each other at any rate).

Unlike your average teenagers, however, Michael and his friends will have adulthood and responsibility thrust upon them, and their later development will depend on just how vindictive I’m feeling at the time.

Can you tell me a little about how your characters are influenced by their setting?

Certainly. Day to day, Michael, Tamara and their friends are surrounded by wealth and power but are treated very much as outcasts by the rest of the school. Even the staff of other houses at the school look down on Solaris, mainly because the Braxton Foundation pays for the education of all of Solaris’s members. Even Rupert, who comes from a very wealthy family, is bullied for being a Solaris student.

Michael’s personality changes quite dramatically from location to location in the book, but it also depends on the company he’s keeping at the time. At home, he’s as relaxed as you’d expect him to be. He even takes the book out to his best friend’s house in his backpack – something he wouldn’t dare do at school. He’s very secretive about what goes on at the academy, however, but mostly because he and Tamara have agreed that knowledge of the Inquisition could have dire consequences for their families. And you have to wonder whether it’s something they’ve been taught at school, or whether it’s a conclusion they’ve drawn on their own.

Most of us indulge in our need for melodrama from time to time, especially when we’re caught up in the moment. Young people have a knack for seeing wonder around every corner, so I didn’t need to make the academy buildings as special as, say, another recently well-known school for gifted children. We also need to remember that they’re not gifted until they reach the academy. So, instead of the immediate wonder of … the other place, I gave them every luxury. Hopefully, it reinforces the sense of obligation that Solaris’s students feel towards the Inquisition. ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’, as they say.

In the Peer Court scene, we get the impression that duty and honour are highly prized at that academy. After all, it’s Michael’s sense of duty that lands him there in the first place, or perhaps it’s the other student’s attitudes towards Michael and his friends that encourage them to look out for each other so fiercely. In the end, though, the academy forces our best friends to grow up prematurely.

When I was editing Inquisitor, one of my biggest concerns was that chapter where Michael visits his sister’s high school. It wasn’t until I’d read the whole book back that I realised how important the chapter was to the rest of the story. We get a glimpse of what could have been – the normality (or perhaps the futility) that would have resulted from his time as a regular teen; even his father’s comments about having to stay late at the office or miss holidays with the family hint to it.

Now, you might think that all of these things have nothing in common. But they make the academy the mysterious, magical place that it is, without giving it paranormal paraphernalia. And ultimately, if we as readers feel that way about the academy, it’s no wonder Michael and his friends do too.

What is an example of Michael and Tamara’s education at the academy?

On the surface, Michael and Tamara’s timetable is like any other school timetable – Math, Science, English etc. But they also have lessons in Lore.

Lore mainly covers talent development. For example, in Inquisitor, Mr Steele (their Lore master) demonstrates his own particular talents – telepathy and telekinesis. But as each pupil’s abilities lie in any of three main disciplines, they are separated according to their strengths for physical training.

Michael and Tamara learn to use their telekinetic abilities in combat, for the most part, learning how to disarm, disable and ultimately dispatch their opponents with the minimum effort- a lot like a martial art. But it isn’t all about the fighting.

In one of my favourite passages of the book, Michael, Tamara and their friends learn about the history of the Inquisition and how their powers came to be. We also learn how Aladdin’s genie was imprisoned in the lamp and how the war began. Most of their information comes from updated versions of Grimm’s Modern Lore, which also helps us as readers to understand more about Michael and Tamara’s world and the magic that exists in it.

Who is Mr. Catchpole?

That’s the million-dollar question! All I can say is that he’s your usual villain. If anything, I would describe him as chaotically good – or willing to do whatever he thinks is right to achieve peace. His story unfolds throughout the series, and I hope that the more you learn about Catchpole, the more interesting he’ll become.

In fact, he is probably the character I find the most difficult to write. I often find his dialog and sometimes his actions getting away from me, and I have to rein him in again. On the days I struggle to get 500 words onto the page it’s usually because I’m writing Catchpole. It’s like a game of chess. I have to be thinking so far ahead of the story for him while keeping his back story in mind at the same time.

For now, Catchpole’s most important role is to be our anchor to the views of the Inquisition. Without him, I couldn’t tell their side of the story.

Where can readers buy your book?

If you’re downloading from the US, you can find it at:

Amazon US

Or from the UK at:

Amazon UK

Alternatively, readers can follow the links from Inquisitor’s page at: indiebrag  which goes a long way to supporting the BRAG community and all of the wonderful things they do for independent authors.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to G.J. Reilly who is the author of, Inquisitor; The Book of Jerrick – Part 1, 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, Inquisitor; The Book of Jerrick – Part 1, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lynnda Pollio


I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lynnda Pollio to Layered Pages today. Lynnda was born in rural New Jersey, she grew up surrounded by trees. She communicated to insects, raised baby birds that fell from their nests, and wandered through a childhood feeling like she belonged somewhere else…like there was always some other time, some other place that was waiting for her. As an adult, Lynnda moved to New York City and began experiencing life from many perspectives. After her father died, she heard a voice tell her to go to Sedona, AZ, and that began a journey into spiritual awakening. She immersed herself in raw foods, spiritual disciplines, energy work and levels of awareness.

Lynnda has always been deeply committed to elevating human consciousness. This life purpose guided her as an accomplished senior advertising executive, as a consultant and thought leader in conscious business practices, and as the world’s first Chief Consciousness Officer, supporting Fortune 500 companies by helping them engage the human technologies of wisdom, intuition, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and gratitude. Currently, as a New Consciousness Educator and Author, Lynnda continues to connect people with the universal truths that lie within their hearts, so that we all may reach a more sustainable, caring future. Lynnda never expected to be a writer until she heard the mystical voice of Addie Mae Aubrey, a Southern, African-American woman asking to tell her story. Together they shared an amazing journey through space and time that transformed the author’s life forever.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I discovered IndieBrag online, as I stumbled around looking for a platform to promote Trusting the Currents. As an Indie-published author, it is difficult to find ways to illuminate your book. I loved how authentic they were. I wasn’t looking for anyone to tell me the book was good. I wanted honest insights. I felt I got that from IndieBrag…lucky for me they loved Trusting the Currents and awarded me a medallion.

Tell me about your book, Trusting The Currents.

Trusting the Currents

 I never expected to write Trusting the Currents until I started hearing the voice of a Southern, African American woman, Addie Mae Aubrey. I began writing what she told me and two years later I had the first draft. I wrote stream of consciousness. I never knew the story until I wrote it, and she always picked up where she left off. It took me another 10 years to finish the book, (It was quite a journey) and Indie publish it. It’s an interesting novel in that it has three layers to it. The first is the story itself, of a teenage black girl in the late 30’s/early 40s rural South, the second are inspirational life messages woven through her story. And the third is an energetic frequency that helps to bring the reader deep into their own heart and story while they read about Addie Mae.

Tell me about Mae Aubrey.

Addie Mae has been the most important person in my life. She changed everything I became. Through sharing her own life experiences and struggles, she brings readers into their own struggles and opens their heart to find answers. She came to me as an old woman but she told me the story of her teenage years. Though I was told Aubrey was her last name, I was writing the book for a year before she gave me her first name. She explained I had to discover it for myself. I kept changing it but nothing felt right. Then, while watching TV one day, on the anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing that killed 4 little girls, on the screen was a picture of each of the girls. As soon as I saw Addie Mae Collins, I knew that was her name, Addie Mae. It became my way of honoring those girls. For the rest of the writing of the first draft, I kept a picture of Addie Mae Collins taped to my computer. Addie Mae sort of shape shifts and becomes each reader.

Will you tell me a little of what life was like for her in 1930’s rural south?

The emphasis of the story is not on her location, her race, her age, or her gender. These are just place marks for a more universal theme of sharing the human experience. In Addie Mae’s mind, she just happened to be living in the South at that time, just happened to be black and female. While I was writing, I had to keep these structures as loose as possible. (I actually just guessed when she was living, by the story itself). I did not know why at the time. But now I realize it was because everyone can see themselves in Addie Mae, regardless of race, gender, age, religion and culture. By keeping the details of her life loose, the readers’ mind does not create judgment about who she is and they can see themselves in her easier. But, she lived a small, simple life in the South at that time.

What is one of the things she learns about the spiritual world?

Two things define Addie Mae’s journey and the person she becomes at the end of the book. Reading and spirituality. The spiritual center of the book is her cousin, Jenny. It is through Jenny’s guidance that Addie Mae experiences the magic of nature and of the journey of self-discovery. She learns to trust her own inner guidance, even when she does not quite understand it. Unlike Jenny, who is connected to “The Invisibles” and is steadfast in her beliefs, Addie Mae stumbles through her spiritual growth. But ultimately, she learns to “trust the currents.”

Who is Jenny?

Jenny is Addie Mae’s beautiful, bi-racial cousin who comes to stay with Addie Mae and her mother after her own mother is killed in a fire. She is brought there by her shadowy step-father, Uncle Joe. Jenny lives by her own rules, which cause her to be a bit of an outcast. But she is the wisdom keeper of the family. Throughout the struggles and tragedy in the story, Jenny is always Jenny. She is my favorite character.

Why did you choose to write this story?

I did not choose to write this story. It chose me. I never expected to me a writer, particularly write a book. But here I am, an Author, having won 10 book awards and garnering beautiful reviews. When I first wrote Trusting the Currents, I did not know if it was meant for anyone but me. At first, I just HAD to write it. I was reluctant but Addie Mae was insistent and I could not do anything else during the day if I did not write some of the story. Once the first draft was completed, Addie Mae left and the rest of the book—the years of editing, giving up, editing more, giving up again (because why was I doing this?) and then deciding to Indie publish was all mine. Trusting the Currents has defined my life in many ways. And I hope it helps others in their own journey through life.

Who designed your book cover?

Vanessa NoHeart from Sacramento, CA. She did an amazing job. I wanted a cover that would help people experience the same feeling while holding the book that they do when reading it. And she succeeded. Everyone loves to hold the book! People tell me they can feel the energy of the story within it. Particularly the paperback.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Trusting the Currents took 10 years to complete because I kept giving up, then would be called back by Addie Mae, the narrator. She would not let me surrender. For most of the book’s writing, it was called Soulseeds. I was very attached to the name. But much happened in my life during those ten years. I struggled. It was when my mother fell and I had to care for her 24/7 for months on end, that I went back to the book one long, sad night. While I wrote another edit, I felt a new energy come into the story. When I finished that edit a couple of months later, I just knew it wanted to be called something else. I actually cried giving up the title Soulseeds as it had become part of my identity. Then I asked the book what it wanted to be called. A couple of weeks later after continued asking, I heard Trusting the Currents. So, I read the book through again with that title in mind. And I realized that Trusting the Currents is what the book is all about. It was perfect. Now I love it and can’t imagine ever having another title.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I write mostly in bed, mostly in the morning before the day’s events begin to clog my mind with the past and the future. For me, writing is very much about being in the present and allowing it to take me deeply into the moment. I write what I feel first, whatever wants to be heard. Later, I go back and find better words and work on the structure of the writing so it flows. But if I don’t have the initial resonance with what is trying to rise from me, the writing never works. The resonance is everything.

When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?

I was never stuck during the initial writing. Listening to Addie Mae, I wrote stream of consciousness. I never knew where I was going. It was a year before I knew I was even writing a book. I just had to write! She always picked up where she left off, so the first draft (which took about 2 years) was only dependent on me willing to listen and write and follow her direction. During the long years of editing I got stuck often because I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I gave up for months. Sometimes days later the words would come to me. Sometimes I would work on one sentence for hours because it had to sound a certain way. I think, in the end, it was always about not giving up. Even when I was stuck. Just give it some time and wait. The answer is always there.

Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I am very immersed in the work of consciousness. It’s not so much a hobby as a calling. I believe we are experiencing a major shift in global consciousness. Understanding what that is and how to engage the energies to lead us all to better lives and a more sustainable future is a life-long quest of learning and helping. I practice intuition, resonance training among other energy practices. And I love connecting to people who share this inner drive. I guess seeking in my hobby.




Awards Trusting the Currents has won

2015 B.R.A.G Medallion
2014 Nautilus Book Awards Gold Medal in Fiction
2015 IPPY Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction
2015 National Indie Excellence Awards Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction
2015 International Book Awards Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction
2015 Readers Favorite Gold Medal in Inspirational Fiction
2015 USA Book News Best Book Awards top Winner in Visionary Fiction
2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Inspirational Fiction
2015 Los Angeles Book Festival, Honorable Mention in Spirituality
2015 Writer’s Digest Book Awards, Honorable Mention in Inspiration

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to Lynnda Pollio who is the author of, Trusting the Currents, 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, Trusting the Currents, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag team member


Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Maria Grace

Maria Grace BRAG

Today I’d like to welcome B.RA.G. Medallion Honoree Maria Grace to talk with me about her book, Remember the Past. Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily, reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in various drafts, waiting for editing, will attend her seventh period ball in 2016, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book in 2015.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I have been following its development from the beginning

Please tell me about your book, Remember the Past.

Remember the Past BRAG

Remember the Past is a take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which instead of a landowner, Mr. Bennet is a successful naval admiral, who retires and tries to enter London society. Unfortunately, things do not go exactly according to plan. The Bennet’s long-awaited first season in London proves a disaster, and the resulting scandal sends the Bennets fleeing to the wilds of Derbyshire.

Widower Fitzwilliam Darcy, the master of Pemberley, wants for nothing, most especially not a wife. From the moment the Bennets arrive in Derbyshire, Darcy’s neatly ordered life turns upside down. His sons beg to keep company with their new playmates, the young Bennet twins. His mother-in-law sets her cap for Admiral Bennet. Worst of all, Darcy cannot get his mind off a certain bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but she has sworn never to let another gentleman near her heart.

Darcy’s best efforts to befriend and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry, alienating first Miss Elizabeth, then her father, and finally endangering what both men hold most dear. Can the two men Elizabeth loves most set aside their pride to prevent catastrophe for their families and win the love they seek?

Will you give me an example of one of the Bennet’s mishap during their first season in London?

Jane and Elizabeth, first with their mother, then after her death, their step mother, followed their father all over the world, growing up in port cities and experiencing far more than the typical young lady, or even typical gentlemen of the era. Their beauty, connections, and fortunes make them very attractive as potential wives, but neither suffers foolish young men gladly. Rejected suitors spread malicious rumors, and the Bennet sisters are not shy to stand up for themselves.

Tell me a little about Elizabeth.

She is the bolder, more outspoken of the two sisters. She has also taken the brunt of the problems during their London Season, culminating with having to fight off a too aggressive suitor and leaving him with a scarred face. She has become a bit cynical and weary of the whole marriage mart, ready to give up the whole notion of marriage, as she is in the enviable position of not needing to marry.

What do you like most about the Regency era?

I love the wealth of primary resources available through digitized books that allow me to read about the era directly in the words of those living then.

Please tell me a little about the naval service of the era.

The navy offered greater potential for social mobility than most institutions in Regency era society. Generally only the sons of gentlemen or perhaps wealthy middle-class parents could enter the path to becoming an officer, but the way was not entirely closed to others. Once a lieutenant, a man could rise through his own merit to a high position, even above those with higher origins. Unlike army officers, naval officers did not purchase their commissions, they earned them.

Naval service was dangerous, though, with nearly 100,000 casualties between 1793 and 1815. Battle at sea accounted for less than 10% of naval casualties. Accidents and disease accounted for 80%.

Naval wages, even for Captains were notoriously low. Prize money was the only way to wealth and came in various forms. If an enemy ship was sunk, ‘Head and Gun’ money (calculated by the numbers of men or guns on the enemy vessel) was awarded. Until1808, a 3/8 share went to the captain and the remainder was divided on a diminishing scale, according to rank, among the other officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, and the ordinary members of the crew. After 1808, a slight change was made to the allocation of these shares.

If they captured an enemy ship, the Admiralty was often prepared to buy it from them and resulted in higher rewards. The best payouts came if the captured ship was carrying a valuable cargo. This kind of prize money was divided up so officers received more than the ordinary crewmen. It was possible for officers to earn substantial wealth in prize money.

How long did it take for you to write your story?

I took my time writing this one. I think it took about 10 months.

Did you keep to the personalities of Austen’s characters?

After a fashion. What I tried to do was to consider the character in light of the new circumstances. I tried to figure out how the different situations would change the characters and wrote them from that perspective. So I started with the original and tried to make realistic changes from there.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The title is a quote from Pride and Prejudice, which inspired the story, that embodies the overall theme of the tale.

Who designed your book cover?

I designed this cover. The current one is the second version of this cover. The changes were inspired by the word of the cover designer I hired for another project. I learned so much from her! Since I had to add the B.R.A.G. Medallion to the cover, it was a good excuse to put what I learned into action.




Google +


Random Bits of Fascination

Austen Variations

English Historical Fiction Authors

Twitter @WriteMariaGrace


A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Maria Grace who is the author of, Remember the Past, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, 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, Remember the Past, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Simon James House

Simon J House BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Simon James House to talk with me about his book, Andee the Aquanaut, Guardian of the Great Seas. Simon was born in London.  He has always been highly creative with a strong and vivid imagination.  Simon spends most of his time now living in-between London and Sydney, Australia, where his passions are surfing and writing.

He constantly seeks new and creative ways to express himself; one of these ways being through writing fiction stories.  His passion for writing motivates him to create inspiring works that are original and innovative, sparking the reader’s imagination, taking them on a journey into his world.  Simon is also the creator of the FreeForma Free-racer Game, and inventor of the Classic surf/skate FreeForma bike.

Visit and learn more about his new Menosaurs series and the Andee the Aquanaut trilogy via his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

How did you discover indieBRAG?

IndieBrag found me; I still don’t know who nominated me! But I am very grateful.

Please tell me about your book, Andee the Aquanaut Trilogy, Guardian of the Great Seas.

Andee is a young boy who lives on an island with his parents who are marine biologists. One day a great and frightening storm carries his parents out to sea in their dinghy. Searching for them along the shore, Andee is caught by a freak wave. Under the water he is saved by two dolphins he’d previously befriended, Tingo and Tango. He is carried to safety, an underwater home, where the dolphins become his new family. Here he discovers he is the chosen one, a legendary aquanaut with the purpose of saving the oceans and battling the evil queen Zadora who seeks to over-run the Water Spirit kingdom and the Lost City. He is given a super-suit that allows him to become the heroic warrior he is under water.

 What was your inspiration for this story?

 I’ve been a surfer for most of my life. I wanted to create a character that would appeal to younger children, to inspire them (and educate them) to help our oceans. One day, while considering a character to present to a toy manufacturer, the concept of the young Andee unfolded. It was up to me to bring him to life, which I believe I have done through the trilogy. I guess he is a part of me. His adventures and quests are challenging, which I love.


Tell me a little about the Aquanauts of the Marine Kingdom; the Lost City.

The legendary Aquanauts were warriors and protectors of the Lost City. The Lost City is an underwater paradise that was guarded for its resources. It was ruled by a compassionate merking (mermaid king). When the king lost his wife and became ill he remarried a mermaid named Zadora, unfortunately unaware of her evil intent. One weakness that the mermaids and men of the Marine Kingdom had was their lust for gold, a lust so strong it could turn the merpeople against one another. Zadora lived and breathed only to have it all for herself once she became queen. The Lost City is filled with gold, among other treasure, as well as cures for life-threatening illnesses. So, to protect his people from lust and greed, the king told them they would not be allowed to return to the Lost City, that they would be safe in the Marine Kingdom, no longer tempted by the gold. The Lost City was then protected by the aquanauts who, over time, disappeared. But, with Queen Zadora gaining more power as the king fell more ill, Andee was called to protect the Lost City from her malicious plan to overthrow the entire kingdom. He was once a legendary aquanaut; in the story he becomes the reincarnation of this former aquanaut self, although remaining in the body of a teenage boy.

 What fascinates you the most about the ocean?

 Everything; the landscapes, plants, marine mammals and, mostly, the undiscovered depths. Having seldom been down there, mankind can only imagine what exists beyond what we’ve already seen. That’s why I love it; with an imagination, anything could be possible until proven wrong!

 How does Andee deal with a challenge he faces?

 He has a strong sense of purpose and responsibility, and believes that his quests will bring him closer to finding his parents. He also falls in love with the king’s daughter, Yolanda. When she is under threat from the queen (spoiler alert) his motive to combat the evil queen Zadora becomes even stronger. So, yes, he deals with his challenges with love and a strong sense of purpose.

 Is there a message you would like your readers to come away with after reading your story?

 Always do the right thing, especially where the people and beings you care for are concerned. There is always a way to combat injustice, it just takes faith and courage. Once you put your intentions in the right place, you will start to see others begin to help you along your journey.

 Will you please share an excerpt? 

 (Exert from Book One)

Andee and Yolanda swam into the Black Sea; the cold water was icy around their bodies. They saw a large reef covered in huge plants and seaweed, behind which they hid as they looked back in fear.

Zadora and the merman guards had also entered into the Black Sea and were searching for them. Their black hair flowed in the strong current as they held their spears raised, ready for attack.

The Black Sea was a cold and dangerous place for everybody. It was full of giant prehistoric sea life from hundreds and thousands of years ago. Andee and Yolanda hid in amongst the huge leafy plants. They hovered there holding onto the underneath of a huge leaf, swaying rapidly in the churning currents.

Zadora and the guards were getting closer, but they also had to be careful about the massive monsters lurking in the waters.

The water got very dark as the night was coming. It was getting more and more dangerous.

Suddenly the water lit up as giant dinosaur-monster eyes shone out like huge torches into the darkness. A huge roar through the sea broke the silence, and out of the blackness a dinosaur appeared. It surged through the water, chasing the smaller fish.

With its huge serpent-type head and long neck down to its humped back, it used its huge fins to plough through the water. Then, without warning, the serpent lurched forward and grabbed another huge monster fish in its mouth, biting the fish in half with one swift blow from its jaws.

Yolanda couldn’t help screaming, but Andee put his hand over her mouth to stop her just in time. As he did so he let go of the huge leaf that was keeping them hidden.

One of the merman guards caught a glimpse of them. He hissed and pointed with his spear.

There!” he shouted.

Andee quickly pulled Yolanda out of the seaweed and swam away with all his strength. But just as he did so, the huge sea serpent spotted them. The serpent raced towards them, roaring with its huge mouth wide open.

Swim! Andee!” Yolanda screamed.

Zadora and the guards hissed and grinned.

“Perhaps the serpent will do the work for us,” said Zadora. “Come on!” she shouted, and together they followed behind the massive sea monster.

Andee was swimming hard. “I can’t outswim him, Yolanda. He’s too fast. We must try and find somewhere to hide.”

Andee saw a small crevice in a rock below. ‘There’s only room for one person,’ he thought.

“I’m going down,” he said, “hold on tight. I can see somewhere for you to hide, Yolanda.”

Andee swooped down to the crevice and quickly dropped Yolanda inside. “You will be safe here,” he said.

“Andee…” Yolanda shouted, “…look out!

Just as he turned he saw the huge sea serpent’s jaws just about to snap on him.

Use your suit,’ Andee suddenly heard a voice say. ‘Use your suit, Andee. Think and feel, and become one with your suit.

Andee shot out of the way just as the serpent bit down hard.

Smash! The serpent got a mouthful of rock as Andee sped away. But the serpent then let out a roar and gave chase on him again.

Where can readers buy your books?

 Via Amazon and Barnes n’ Noble. Not only can they read them, the books are available as audio books, too, also via Amazon.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted an androgynous sounding name so both boys and girls could relate to the character, and I also wanted ‘Aquanaut’ in the title. So, the name Andee the Aquanaut was born. Indee (for girls mostly) arrives toward the end of book two. The names together ‘ring’ well.

Who designed your book cover?

Cover designs and illustrations are done by award-winning artist, Zoran Zlaticanin. We have an amazing working relationship. We are totally in tune with each other; I love working with him. In fact, I also named Andee’s sidekick (from book two) ‘Zoran, the dolphin’ after him.









Andee’s YouTube

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Simon James House who is the author of, Andee the Aquanaut Trilogy, Guardian of the Great Seas, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, 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, Andee the Aquanaut Trilogy, Guardian of the Great Seas, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.