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Author Interview: ‘Far Away and Further Back’ by Patrick Burns

About the Book:

After his first overseas assignment to the USA in 1975 – just twenty-three with a suitcase and a guitar – corporate nomad, Patrick Burns, kept on moving from country to country rarely declining a fresh challenge in a new location. In these stories from four decades of living and working around the world, he relives some of his most memorable experiences: from dangerous pyrotechnic liaisons in the Algerian desert to a quest to find the Archbishop of Rangoon after a chance meeting in an English village church. The locations and circumstances run the gamut of the quotidian to the exotic; context and time are less relevant than who is met, what transpires and how the experience says something about the human condition.

This exploration of the personal landscape of expatriate life is interwoven with a navigation of some of the ties that have bound his unusual Anglo-German family during the past century; a mixture of hardcore Yorkshire eccentricity (including a grandfather whose obsession with installing indoor toilets inadvertently led to a twenty-five year family rift) and a liberal academic, Hanoverian heritage disoriented by Hitler, the events of 1939-45 and Cold War detente.

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Author Interview:

 

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a retired senior human resources executive currently living to the north east of San Francisco. My specialization in international human resources meant that I spent nearly four decades living and working all over the world. Eight countries in total, involving thirteen international moves and twenty-one house moves.

Writing my most recent book “Far Away and Further Back” arose directly from that experience. I had already co-written one of the earliest “how to” books on expatriation (“The Expatriate Handbook – A Guide To Living and Working Overseas” Kogan Page 1993) so the broad subject area was my comfort zone.

This latest book is, hopefully, a lot less dry since it’s a recollection of some of the more memorable things that happened and people that I met in the course of my travels.

In all honesty I retired too soon and too quickly. I’d taken for granted the sense of self-worth that comes with having responsibilities and the need to make things happen in a business. I was desperately looking for something to replace that and writing about what I’d experienced seemed the best option. It gave me a voice I’d been searching for and a formula for writing that was fulfilling – something that allowed me to shake off the dissatisfaction, I still felt from dropping out of corporate life so suddenly

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Not really. Some of the stories in my current book were started while I was still working and I always enjoyed writing at airports or on planes. It sort of fitted in with the subject matter. These days it’s a little more prosaic. A study overlooking the redwood trees in my garden is my normal perch. Very pleasant but fairly predictable…

I do tend to write best in the early evening before dinner. Probably the prospect of food spurs me on…

3: Where do your ideas come from?

In my case, real life. The stories I recount are 100% what happened. What I try to do is approach the point of the story obliquely and work into the main event – and the point of the narrative – in a way that may surprise the reader. The quest to find a Burmese Archbishop on a visit to Yangon starts with a chance meeting in the church where I was baptized in Yorkshire in England, and with a conversation about stained glass windows. In another story, I describe traveling through (and over) the equatorial rain forests of Borneo but the main event is the oddness of an encounter with a pocket-watch expert while waiting for the arrival of a helicopter in a jungle clearing.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Yes I do usually have a plan. Again, since I’m giving an account of things that actually happened, I’m less concerned with plot development – given that the events are known. The planning is more in the way I approach the anecdote and what I want to leave in the reader’s mind about the person I met or the experience I had.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I suppose they are a loose form of memoir focusing on travel related experiences and an unusual family history. I felt comfortable with this genre since I believed I’d had some funny and unusual experiences that I thought other people may enjoy hearing about. I use the term “loose” in connection with a memoir because, unlike many books in this genre, the stories aren’t really about me but about what happened when I was in a particular place.  Each story is datelined with a location – often well on the margins of where people usually go – and I consciously avoid a chronological approach to dispel the sense that this was some sort of sequence lifted from a diary.

The format I chose also gave me the opportunity to explore the view that history always informs experience and that family history shapes the person we become. Like many people, I’m fascinated by the way our lives, (in my case a life predominantly of expatriation,) and the way we see the world, are shaped from the intersecting of various lines of family history and events.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Interesting question! Most of the book relates to me in my twenties to forties so I would be looking for an English actor who can play both observer and protagonist depending on the circumstances. Tom Wilkinson (Full Monty) in his younger days would have been a contender. There are too many other people populating the twenty plus stories to work up a full cast – it would be a mixture of mainly British and American players with an equally long list of largely Asian  parts.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read less than I used to. Fiction doesn’t grab my attention the way it used to. I read a lot of rock biography and books on the history of rock music.

Favorite authors: Paul Theroux, David Mitchell, George Orwell, Anita Shreve, Kate Wilkinson. (Rock non-fiction: Richie Unterberger and  Barney Hoskyns.)

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

“The Sympathizer” – Viet Thanh Nguyen

“The Last Stand – Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn” – Nathaniel Philbrick

“Our Towns – a 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America” – James and Deborah Fallows

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Probably Paul Theroux’s “Mosquito Coast” (but there are so many and it will undoubtedly be a different choice if I’m asked again next week.) Such an original story beautifully told.

I’d also have to put Theroux’s “Saint Jack” up there as well for the same reason – with its evocation of a long-gone Singapore, a place I spent more than ten years of my life and know well.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I’m not qualified to give advice but the obvious thing to me is a) find a voice that suits you and b) just do it – don’t talk about it – but stop and start again with a different voice if it’s just not working. Flogging a dead horse doesn’t usually produce a worthwhile end result.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I have an author’s page on Facebook at Patrick H Burns where I am slowly loading photographs and commentaries that provide a backdrop to “Far Away and Further Back”.

Direct link: www.facebook.com/patrickharaldburns

 

About the Author:

In 2009, after more than thirty-five years of climbing, clinging onto, and occasionally sliding down the corporate ladder, Patrick Burns retired from an international business career in Human Resources. An opportunity to work on regional and global projects led to an early specialization in international HR and the chance to live and work all over the world. This included four assignments to Asia, where he spent a total of eighteen years, as well as other regional roles covering Europe-Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. Patrick was born in Yorkshire in the UK and now lives just outside San Francisco. He is married with four children.

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Author Interview: ‘Caina’ by Joe Albanese

About the Book:

Twins tend to be closer than typical siblings. They often share a bond that is oftentimes unexplainable.*

For some reason that bond didn’t apply to Grant and Lee Tolan. Grant was always the responsible one. Lee, on the other hand, was always in trouble and in jail, self-destructing to the point the twins hadn’t seen or spoken in years.

In trouble with the Irish mob who wanted him sleeping with the fishes, finding Grant dead of an apparent suicide, Lee did the only thing that made sense. He switched identities.

Instead of making life easier, Lee is plunged into a world the Irish and Italian crime families, the Mexican cartel and the DEA. Pitting one against the other, Lee enlists the help of friends to save his own life. He will need a miracle.

But Grant’s secret is the biggest shock of all for Lee and he must re-evaluate his entire life.

*Maureen Healy, author of Growing Happy Kids.

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Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

My name is Joe. I live in New Jersey. I write fiction and poetry. I have a novel, Caina, and a novella, Smash and Grab. I don’t like talking about myself, so this is borderline torture for me.

Years ago, my friend asked if I wanted to write a screenplay with him. It sounded amusing. He was high at the time. I don’t have an excuse. It turned out really bad, but I had fun creating something from scratch, so I kept writing and transitioned from screenwriting to prose and poetry.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Most of my writing gets done in the middle of the night at the kitchen table. That’s the only time it’s quiet, and there’s less TV and internet going on to distract me. But I do enjoy a rainy day spent writing.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

If I had a good answer to that, I probably wouldn’t currently be out of ideas.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Mostly I plan. Smash and Grab is the only story where I just started writing with no real idea other than the opening. It kind of worked out because some of the twists surprised even me. For everything else, including Caina and the novel I just finished, I take a shit-ton of notes until a full story is in my head, then I do notecards to help organize, then outline, then write, then contemplate suicide, then rewrite.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

There’s almost always a criminal element to them, and usually from the criminals’ perspective. I went to school for criminal justice, so that probably had some influence. But you can always have more fun with characters who blur the line between right and wrong.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

For Caina, I think Sam Rockwell would deliver the comedic dialogue best. He’s probably too old though. I’d be a terrible casting director. Martin McDonagh would be my dream director for it though.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I used to read a lot, but I’ve barely read anything in 2018. The only writers I’ve read a lot of are Charles Dickens for fiction and Charles Bukowski for poetry. I try to read a variety.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I read The Graveyard Book last Halloween and really liked it, and I’ve seen a few of his movie adaptations, so I figured I need to read more of his since he’s so popular.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

A Clockwork Orange. The language is so good. It takes a couple chapters to get used to, but it’s so good.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

You start by laying the rope out like an S.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

 You can find me on Twitter @JoeAlba88

 

About the Author:

Joe Albanese is a writer from South Jersey. He has had short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published in the United States, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, and Sweden. Joe is the author of “Smash and Grab” and “Caina.”

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Release Blitz: ‘Only the Positive’ by Elle Thorpe

Title: Only the Positive
Series: Only You #1
Author: Elle Thorpe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Release Date: September 20, 2018
Blurb

 

Reese

I made a mistake that might have ruined someone’s life. I’ve moved to Sydney to avoid the glares and the questions from the people back home, but there’s one thing I can’t run from—the guilt and pain that follows me relentlessly. All I can do is dull it with alcohol and casual sex. But then my new boss, Mr Dark and Delicious, deserted me, mid kiss, with my skirt hiked up and my shirt discarded on the alley floor. I should hate him―him and the secrets he’s keeping. But I can’t stay away. Because the pain and guilt he’s hiding mirror my own.

 

Low

All she wanted was one night. That, I could do. I’m the king of casual. Love them and leave them, before they leave me. With chemistry off the scale, we couldn’t even make it home, both of us too impatient, ripping each other’s clothes off in the alleyway outside the bar. Then my phone buzzed, and one text message stopped everything. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe. All I could do was run. I’m toxic, but I can’t tell her why. I can’t bear the look of horror I know would cross her face. But I also don’t know how to keep something so life altering from the woman I’m falling for. Not when I need her just to survive it.

 

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Author Bio

Elle Thorpe lives on the sunny east coast of Australia, about an hour out of Sydney. When she’s not writing stories full of kissing and chemistry, she’s a wife, and mummy to three tiny humans. She’s also official ball thrower to one slobbery dog named Rollo. Yes, she named a female dog after a male character on Vikings. Don’t judge her. Elle is a complete and utter fangirl at heart, obsessing over The Walking Dead and Outlander to an unhealthy degree. But she wouldn’t change a thing.

 

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Release Blitz: ‘The Dane Law’ by Garth Pettersen

Title: The Dane Law

The Atheling Chronicles #2

Author: Garth Pettersen

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

About the Book:

After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, Harald and Selia are called to Engla-lond.

Their return is marked by violence and intrigue. The king has vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, will inherit the throne, but the atheling is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. King Cnute urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha.

And what of his older brother, Sweyn?

 

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Excerpt

A.D. 1016

Sussax, Engla-lond

With the sun near setting, eventide mists rose and thickened, obscuring the way through the lowland. Bracken caressed their leggings and bramble thorns snagged their sleeves, as the five warriors sought to retrace their steps. No footprint appeared in the soft earth, no broken branch hung as marker.

“If we could find a stream,” one of Jarl Ulf’s men said, “‘twould lead us back to the shore.”

“If we were ravens we could fly there. Have you seen a cursed stream?” The jarl barely kept his anger in check. It had been his decision to lead the scouting mission––there was no other to blame. The big Dane took a deep breath. He raised an arm. “Hold up.”

His four companions stopped. Each man supported a round wooden shield on his left arm and carried an iron-tipped spear. Thick beards masked resolute faces. Unwashed tresses spilled from unadorned dome helmets crafted with eye and nose protection. Only Jarl Ulf bore a battle-æx at his waist.

“Darkness falls and the mists deepen,” the chieftain said. “We’ll do as when a fog enwraps us at sea––we’ll wait. In the morning light we’ll find our way back to the ships.”

From somewhere in the wood, the bark of a dog broke the stillness.

The Danes stood motionless, all knowing that a yelping dog meant men not far off. The barking sounded again, closer.

“Spread yourselves and move with me,” Ulf commanded in a low voice, and immediately his men spaced themselves and moved into position. They advanced through the dark weald toward the cur-dog, the cool mist dampening their faces. Practiced in stealth, the Danes made little noise in their passing. The dog continued to proclaim his location and the Danish line curved and closed.

The cur’s bark changed to a low growl.

Spears lifted and the warriors stood ready.

A piercing whistle penetrated the cold night air and the dog’s growls ceased. There was a scuffling of paws on leafmold and the attackers knew their prey had withdrawn.

On high alert, Ulf’s men waited for his command.

“Press on,” he said, his voice no more than a grunt.

They passed further into the dense woodland, keeping a steady and silent pace.

Appearing at first like a flickering eye haloed in the white vapors, the campfire blinked through the trees and vines. Drawing nearer, Ulf and his men perceived a lone figure sitting before the fire, stroking a large black-brindle dog that took to growling as they approached.

“Steady, Æadwulf,” said the dog’s young master. The cur was agitated, but it obeyed the command.

“The night is cold,” the young man called out in poor Danish. “Come to my fire. My hand is empty.” And to signify, he lifted his arm, showing the palm of his hand.

Ulf stepped first from the dark of the night into the fire’s light. The youth rose to his feet, hand still raised. Ulf saw a short-bearded youth, tall and solidly built, dressed for hunting rather than fashion, in tunic and braies. Though out-numbered, the swain stood his ground and met Ulf’s eyes without faltering. The arm came down, but the hand remained open.

“You are alone?” Ulf asked.

A nod in response.

Ulf motioned for his men to search the surrounding wood. He returned the battle-æx to his waistband then raised his hands to the heat of the fire.

“You could have taken your wolf-dog and run from us,” he said. “Why didn’t you?”

His host pondered the Danish words, then said in a mix of Saxon German and Danish, “I was curious as to who besides me would be in this wood at night. And I am not partial to running and hiding.”

Jarl Ulf gave a short laugh. “Perhaps not a wise decision, but one I can agree with. What are you called?”

“Godwin I am named. My father holds a thegnage here.” The young man bent to stroke the dog.

“Why do you tend a fire here on this night?”

“For the pleasure of Æadwulf’s company and the taste of the mist. The dog likes to hunt at night. I listen to him and the night sounds. Is that strange to you?”

“Uncommon, perhaps,” Ulf replied, “not strange. Tell me, do you not take us for your enemy, invaders of your homeland?”

“There are many who wish to rule Sussax, and many high-born who switch allegiances. Since King Æthelred the Ill-advised died, it is unknown who will rule, be it Edmund Ironsides or your Cnute. Or perhaps they will divide up the rule. I wish to live and thrive––with the victor.”

“But what if you choose wrongly?” Ulf asked.

“That would be unfortunate. Therefore, I put off choosing ’til I must.”

“And your father, which way does he lean?”

“Toward Edmund Ironsides. But I am not my father.”

Ulf bellowed out a laugh. “You please me, young Godwin. You have spirit and I can’t fault your wits.”

Ulf’s men began to return to the fire, having found no one else in the wood.

“Perhaps,” Ulf said, “we can be of service to each other this dark night.” Godwin watched the Viking chieftain but said nothing. “My men and I have been floundering in your forest like fish on a shoal. You could guide us back to our ships, no doubt.”

Godwin eyed Ulf as if he were bargaining for a favored weapon. “And how would you do me service?”

“Why, by not attacking this part of Sussax. And by leaving your head upon your shoulders!”

The Vikings all joined Ulf in the laughing. When the din died down, Godwin looked round at the armed warriors and said, “Then it would please me greatly to guide you to your ships.”

“Good lad,” said Ulf. “I am Ulf, jarl to Cnute, King of Danmark.” And he offered his open hand to Godwin.

The young Saxon took the extended hand and clasped it heartily.

“And when Cnute is King of Engla-lond, come find me at court.”

The fire’s light shone on the Viking’s wide smile and danced in the glister of his eyes.

Godwin looked at him shrewdly. And nodded.

About the Author:

Garth Pettersen is a Canadian writer living in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When he’s not writing, he’s riding horses and working with young, disabled riders.

Garth’s short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, and in journals such as Blank Spaces, The Spadina Literary Review, and The Opening Line Literary ‘Zine. His story River’s Rising was awarded an Honourable Mention for the Short Story America 2017 Prize, and his fantasy novella, River Born, was one of two runners-up in the Wundor Editions (UK) Short Fiction Prize. His debut novel, The Swan’s Road published by Tirgearr Publishing, is book #1 in The Atheling Chronicles. Book #2, The Dane Law will be released in 2018.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.garthpettersen.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/writeandride

Twitter: @garpet011

Tigearr Publishing Author Page:

www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Pettersen_Garth

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Release Blitz: ‘The Rodeo Cowboy’s Baby’ by Heidi Rice

 

Title: The Rodeo Cowboy’s Baby
Series: The 79th Cooper Mountain Rodeo #5
Author: Heidi Rice
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Blurb

What happens at the rodeo… Doesn’t always stay at the rodeo!

A year after her marriage has crashed and burned–along with her dreams of becoming a mother–Irish newspaper columnist, Evie Donnelly, is not impressed with her editor’s suggestion she head down to Marietta to find some ‘new meat’ for her dating column. With her confidence as a woman at an all-time low, surely the last thing she needs is to risk hooking up with a rodeo cowboy?

Despite a troubled past as a foster kid, calf roping champion Flynn is a man who adores women. Maybe he doesn’t do commitment, but he does do good times and he is only too happy to help when he discovers a smart, funny and beautiful but undeniably fragile woman behind Evie’s tough exterior who is in desperate need of his own personal brand of sexual healing.

But when the rodeo is over, Evie and Flynn can’t forget those three stolen nights together in Marietta–especially when their wild, wonderful ride turns out to have even more unforgettable consequences.

 

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Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling and RITA-nominated author Heidi Rice is married with two sons (which gives her rather too much of an insight into the male psyche). She also works as a film journalist and was born in Notting Hill in West London (before it became as chi-chi as it is in the film starring Hugh Grant). She now lives in Islington in North London – a stone’s throw away from where they shot Four Weddings and a Funeral… (She has asked Hugh to stop stalking her, but will he listen?!)

She loves her job because it involves sitting down at her computer each day and getting swept up in a world of high emotions, sensual excitement, funny feisty women, sexy tortured men and glamorous locations where laundry doesn’t exist … Not bad, eh.

Then she gets to turn off her computer and do chores (usually involving laundry).

 

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