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Author Interview: ‘Fever’ by Janet Gilsdorf

About the Book:

From acclaimed author and Professor Emerita of Pediatrics and Epidemiology Janet Gilsdorf comes a captivating and timely novel about a young doctor’s quest to uncover the cause of a mysterious disease killing young children, and the race to find a cure.

In 1984, in the small Brazilian village of Promissão, a young child begins to fuss, her eyes turning pink and her skin flushed with heat. Four days later, she’s dead.

Sidonie Royal, an accomplished physician and scientist, arrives in the small Brazilian village of Promissão to investigate and hopefully cure this insidious new disease. With several young children already dead, and more getting sick by the day, the stakes cannot get any higher.

But Sid’s personal life is also in flux, as she struggles to balance a complicated relationship with her boyfriend, Paul, pressure to start a family from her well-meaning mother, conflict with her surly but brilliant coworker named Eliot, and a budding romantic attraction to her doctoral student’s twin brother. As Sid relentlessly pursues an explanation for the disease, the village’s physician calls in the Global Health Agency, triggering a scientific race that spans two continents and becomes increasingly defined by personal stakes.

Set against the backdrop of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Fever is about finding courage in the face of the unknown, the lasting power of community, and one woman’s challenge to prove herself as she aims to make a life-saving—and career-defining—discovery.

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Excerpt:

1984 MICHIGAN

The results made no sense. Sid straightened her glasses and stared again at the print-out, at the jumble of black digits that littered the white page. She had run these tests on other samples often, and before today the findings had always been logical. This time, though, the pairs of numbers had gone haywire; rather than concordant—both high or both low—as they should be, they were discordant—one high and the other low. She laid the paper in her lap, closed her eyes, and listened to the music from the lab across the hall. The beat of the bass slapped against her head, rhythmic, regular, driving, compelling. She took a deep breath. The air around her, warm and heavy, smelled of fumes from the Bunsen burner.

Why did the tests have to go bad now? She didn’t have much time. Her research fellowship would end in less than two years, and the experiments she was doing were complicated. She spent days to weeks preparing the materials for one experi- ment and then, with each new experiment, needed to prepare more materials. Ultimately, if her experiments succeeded, she could end up with her dream job, doing what she dearly loved: pondering the world of microscopic creatures, following her curiosity about how they caused illness. If her experiments failed, her curriculum vitae wouldn’t be competitive for a position as an independent researcher, and her dream would be shattered. Since college, she had longed to be a physician-scientist—a doctor to her patients, and a scientist who could unravel the complex and exquisite ways bacteria cause infections. The fel- lowship was designed to prepare her to do research and to do it well. But she—and she alone—had to make her work succeed. The results from today made no sense.

Those failed experiments were, of course, not her first encounter with failure; life wasn’t real without a few stumbles. She knew that, but it always stung. She had been rejected by her top-choice medical school but then accepted by her second through fifth choices. She had received a D in community medicine because the subject was boring beyond words. There was the fender-bender last spring, the meeting she forgot with her research mentor several months ago. Several previous experi- ments had also gone awry, and once she fleetingly considered quitting the fellowship. And, of course, there was her relation- ship with Paul. She and Paul had seemed to be two compat- ible souls, wandering down many paths side by side. But now, like madcap spinning tops, they had twirled off in opposite directions. The worst part was she couldn’t figure out what to do about that.

The thick air stirred. Sid opened her eyes.

Raven peered into her face. “You all right?”

“Yes. Of course.” Sid sat up straight and ran her fingers through her hair.

“You look like hell. Sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. The results of my experiment are cockamamie. That’s all.”

“Hey, that’s an everyday event for the rest of us. You’ve been mighty fortunate if this is your first messed-up experiment.” A tinge of concern etched Raven’s usually playful face. Then, like a passing cloud, it disappeared. “You could try making a graph.” She smiled. “Eliot says that plotting the numbers on a grid sometimes makes them behave.” With that, Raven was gone, back to her lab bench.

Sid gazed out the window into the morning sky, past the tombstones in the cemetery on the other side of the road, past the leafy treetops that scattered the sunshine, past the river beyond that burbled toward the faraway lake. Her eyes wan- dered back to one of the graves, the tiny one set apart from the others. From that distance, the little head stone, tilted slightly to the right, appeared mossy and long forgotten. That old feeling, the haunted, empty one that had plagued her for years, swept over her once again like an inky, velvet cape.

She turned her eyes back to the lab and glared, again, at the results. Maybe Raven’s idea would work. Compared to other third-year graduate students, Raven was very wise. She was correct that images sometime revealed what words or numbers couldn’t.

Author Interview:

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

I am a physician and a scientist with a specialty in infectious diseases and have always enjoyed the process of writing. In my work, I have authored many scientific papers and written many grant applications to support my research laboratory. In preparing these documents, I have relished seeking the very best words for expressing my thoughts and telling my story. Since I live a life of science and medicine, I write about science and medicine. Those worlds offer endless, fascinating material for fiction.  

My life is full of good luck and has been a series of serendipitous events; getting into creative writing was one of them. Years ago, while shopping at the local farmer’s market, I ran into the mother of the goalie from my younger son’s former ice hockey team. She and I had shared good books while sitting in the stands during hours of practices and games. She asked if I’d ever thought of writing. I explained that while on vacation at a lovely lake in Minnesota I had considered how much I had learned from my patients and decided I’d like to find a way to express those thoughts.  My friend then invited me to attend the next meeting of a creative writing group she had just joined. I did, kept attending, and was hooked.  

I realized very quickly that I knew nothing about creative writing (what is point-of-view, anyway?) and if I was going to continue with the group, I needed to learn the basics. So I began spending every summer vacation at writing workshop…at Squaw Valley, in Minnesota, in Maine, in Portland, Oregon. The rest is, as they way, history. After many, many years, I still belong to that unbelievably supportive writing group.

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

I am not a morning person, so my writing takes advantage of open moments at any other time of day, as well as on week-ends and holidays. My favorite place to write is my “writing room,” an addition to the main bedroom with a peninsula glassed-in fireplace, huge windows to the east and south, many books, an old globe, orchids, two ancient oak rocking chairs, and a desk my husband build for me. It’s very quiet and the air feeds my creativity. My second favorite place to write in on airplanes, where I can focus with great intensity on my laptop and suffer no interruptions.  

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas for my work come from everywhere and anywhere: from things I read, from things I see, from things I do. In addition to features of the natural world, I’m constantly alert to mannerisms, habits, and oddities of people I encounter, that might enhance a place or a character in my writing.  I keep a notebook beside my bed and one in my car to jot down things that pop into my mind during sleep and road trips. Presently I’m makingbead-stew bracelets for my relatives and have decided to have a character in my current novel-in-progress make one the colors of a monarch butterfly.  

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?

Usually I let the characters tell me where they are going. In my first novel Ten Days, I knew the ending very early and wrote toward that end. In Fever, I had no idea how it would end and let Sidonie lead me there. 

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

I’m not a fan of being locked into “genre,” but I guess you’d call my novels Women’s Fiction with a literary bent. I like fiction because it isn’t hampered by the tyranny of true events, but rather allows me lots of flexibility in telling the story by molding my thoughts into a narrative. 

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

We’ve never had a television set and don’t watch movies (reading books is much more rewarding), so I’m kind of stumped here. 

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

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Favorite authors include Michael Ondaatje (he’s a poet at heart so his narratives sing); Elizabeth Strout (her Lucy Barton books appear simple but are, in fact, studies of deep and complex human interactions), ditto for Rachel Cusk; Ann Patchet (even her essays are stunning); and Lorrie Moore (who writes the best, quirky short stories ever).  

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

Just started Intamacies by Katie Kitamura (the bright fuchsia cover is very eye-catching). Just finished A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, a writer and Buddhist priest whose narrative voice of a troubled teenager is brilliant and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, whose beginning was too loaded with detail for me but I came to understand that it reflected the nature of Major Pettigrew, a truly delightful character.  

9: What is your favourite book and why?

My all-time favorite is The English Patient by Michael Ondaadji, because of its lyrical narrative, engaging characters, and exotic place. Second might be Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, because of interesting characters and beautiful musical metaphors.  Third might be We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo because of the spot-on voices of children.

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

  1. Learn the basics of good writing
  2. Join a writing group to get critical feedback  
  3. Write, write, write
  4. Revise, revise, revise 

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

I’m kind of allergic to Social Media (takes time away from writing and other fun and important things) but I can be found on:

My website: www.janetgilsdorf.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JanetRGilsdorf   

Twitter: @JanetGilsdorf 

About the Author:

Janet Gilsdorf was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. She attended college at North Dakota State University and medical school at the University of North Dakota and the University of Nebraska. She completed pediatric and infectious diseases training at Baylor Hospitals, Houston; Valley Medical Center, Fresno; and the University of Minnesota. 

She is the Robert P. Kelch Research Professor Emerita in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan and an infectious diseases physician at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she participates in the diagnosis and management of pediatric patients and in the clinical training of medical students, pediatric residents, and pediatric infectious diseases fellows. She served as Director of the PID division from 1989 to 2012 and co-director of the Center for Molecular and Clinical Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan School of Public Health from 2000 – 2015. She teaches in the M1 Microbiology and Infectious Diseases sequence and the Humanities Path of Excellence at the University of Michigan Medical School. As Director of the Haemophilus influenzae Research Laboratory she has supervised the training of Masters and PhD students in Epidemiology. She has published over 100 articles of original research, most centering around the epidemiology, molecular characteristics, and pathogenesis of Haemophilus influenzae. 

Dr. Gilsdorf has served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Board of Scientific Councilors of the NIH Clinical Center, the Board of Directors on the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Associate Editor of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, member of the Council of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and member of the PID sub-board of the American Board of Pediatrics. She is a past President of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and received the PIDS Distinguished Physician award in 2012. She is a member of the League of Research Excellence of the University of Michigan, received the 2008 Alumni Achievement Award from North Dakota State University, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 2015.

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Author Interview: ‘Nairobi Ndoto’ by Mahua Cavanagh

About the Book:

Set in Nairobi, Kenya, Nairobi Ndoto follows three expatriate women whose ndoto—the Swahili word for dreams—become a nightmare when their world is thrown into turmoil by murder.

Tilly, Pauline, and Zara each dreamed of a life abroad in Kenya filled with adventure, opportunities, and new beginnings. Reality didn’t match the dream. Tilly thought her move to Kenya would be temporary, but nearly ten years and three kids later, she no longer knows what home is. Dealing with an increasingly strained marriage and the unexpected downsides of life abroad, Pauline struggles to establish herself as more than a trailing spouse. Zara, tired of shuttling between Nairobi and Mogadishu and sleeping in borrowed shipping containers, longs for stability. When someone in their expat circle engages in illicit activity, the women become entangled in a murder. Lines are crossed and friendships tested as they sift through the shock and tragedy.

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Purchase Links:

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Author Interview:

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

I’m a third culture kid from New York. In 2015, my husband and I moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where my latest novel is set. We currently live in Vienna, Austria with our two dogs. 

Reading is what got me into writing. I’ve always loved books and am a voracious reader. At some point, I started to create stories of my own. They were mostly short stories that I wrote for my own enjoyment.

As an adult, my writing took a different turn. I started out as a financial journalist. From there, I moved into professional writing and then into user experience design, where I spent the bulk of my career. As a UX designer and strategist, much of my work is about creating the user journey and making sure that journey is a good one. It’s as much about storytelling as it is about design. In that sense, even when I wasn’t the person writing the copy, I was the one drafting the story.

I’m excited to be at a point in my life where I can focus again on creative writing.

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

I have a home office that I’ve set up to be writing conducive. There’s plenty of light, a comfortable desk and chair, and few distractions. I like to spend my afternoons in there writing. 

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I get ideas all the time and from a variety of sources: conversations, things I see around me, and random thoughts as I go about my day. I carry a small notebook with me to jot down each idea. When I don’t have my notebook, I’ll scramble to find something to record that thought.

From a broader standpoint, I’ve gotten ideas from locations. For Nairobi Ndoto, I got inspiration from my life in Nairobi. Living in Vienna gave me the idea for the novel I’m working on now.

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?

I am a planner. I can’t start writing until I have an outline.

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

Nairobi Ndoto is women’s fiction. The book I’m working on now is crime fiction. Both are female-centered and have strong female characters. I think for me, it’s less about the genre and more about how women are portrayed. I like a strong woman in the mix, even if she’s the villain.

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

It’s too scary to dream this one out loud, but I do dream it.

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

I read a lot and I have many favorites. Lately, the authors I have been reading the most are Kevin Hearne, Gigi Pandian, Deanna Raybourn, Victoria Laurie, Patricia Briggs, and Michael Stanley. 

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

I’m reading A Deadly Covenant by Michael Stanley and I just finished Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Just one? I can’t come up with just one. I have rankings though—favorite historical fiction: The Winemaker’s Wife, favorite paranormal: A Discovery of Witches, favorite nonfiction: The Lady in Gold, most immersive: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, etc.

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

Finish the book, or story, or novella. Whatever it is, finish it. Don’t leave your story untold.

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

Website: www.mahuacavanagh.com

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/mahua_cavanagh

Twitter: @mahua_cavanagh

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mahua_cavanagh

About the Author:

I’m a third culture kid from New York. Nairobi Ndoto, my debut novel, was inspired by the four years I spent living in Nairobi, Kenya. These days, I’m living in Vienna, Austria. When I’m not working on my next novel, I’m having fun diving into Viennese life, exploring the city, and learning German.

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Author Interview: ‘The Monks of Malibu’ by Reggie Morrisey

About the Book:

This is story of a young Buddhist monk waylaid in Los Angeles, California, on his first journey beyond a Himalayan meditation cave and of a movie industry gent known as The Monk. What started in 2015 as an idea on a flight to L.A. became a book spanning five years and introducing characters from all walks of L.A. life who connect with the monks for good or evil.

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Purchase Links:

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Author Interview:

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

Writing has been a lifelong passion, on a par with reading. Although I earned a masters in counseling, Since 1981, I enjoyed a career writing for magazines and newspapers, transitioning to script writing for education and transitioning again to technical writing. Since retiring, I’ve concentrated on writing fiction.

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

I learned to write my stories on commuter trains, planes, waiting rooms and cafes. Once I focus, it doesn’t matter where I am. At home in St. Petersburg, Florida, I share a creative space with my husband, artist Vincent Mancuso. We enjoy being surrounded by beauty, nature and music.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Listening to people around you as you go about your day can prompt a story idea. Asking yourself “What if” questions leads to new thoughts. Maintaining a “Tomorrow file” of ideas allows you to jot down thoughts and return to consider their viability. It beats trying to force new ideas to develop immediately.

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?

I think I have a plan until I encounter resistance from characters who challenge me with, “What makes you think I’d do that?” At such an impasse, I let go and think on it. Truly where the fun begins.

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

My ideas tend to be contemporary fiction based in the United States. A sense of place is vital.  Since I’ve lived in New York, California and Florida and have ventured to Spain, France, Great Britain, Denmark and Norway, my writing touches on many alluring places.

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

My latest eBook, The Monks of Malibu, introduces Asian American main characters and touches on the nation’s experience with attacks on people of Asian descent. I would hope any film adaptation would involve actors of Asian background who deserve leading roles.

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

I’ve taken to listening to audiobooks since I spend hours a day at the computer writing my own works. I read at least two books a week. I love the skill of fiction storytellers, from Amor Towles to Liane Moriarty and nonfiction writers such as Simon Winchester and Julian Barnes. Great researchers are so admirable to me, like the late historian David McCullough. There is no end to my list.

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

I’ve discovered Jeffrey Archer’s books and just listened to four of his Clifton Chronicles. Consumed might be a better word. He’s addictive. I’m finishing his Kane and Abel and also just started Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Well, “The Monks of Malibu” earned a piece of my heart because I love the characters and how the story evolved from an idea I had out of the blue on a flight to Los Angeles. A four-part serial Future Schmaltz that I published in February is a treasure trove. Now I’m revising the fictional “Flights of Fancy” and its sequel “Gossamer Wings” for publication in late 2022 and 2023. I feel fortunate to brim with ideas. My motto is to leave nothing in the desk drawer.

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

It’s so tough as a business today. I was lucky to get an initial break and stubborn enough to keep going. I’d say take yourself seriously. Keep your ambition to yourself. Just work your plan. Take courses to refine your skills. Write and revise short pieces. Submit them. If you can find jobs that require writing skills, take them. Nothing is wasted in developing skill sets. 

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

My 2022 eBooks – Future Schmaltz and The Monks of Malibu – are on Amazon. I have two Twitter accounts: @ReggieFiction and @reggie_morrisey and a website www.reggiemorrisey.com

I welcome hearing from voracious readers and aspiring writers from across the pond. Note: My DNA recently revealed ancestors in England, Scotland and Ireland. Thank you for reading this ReadingNook interview. 

About the Author:

In her career in writing nonfiction, Reggie was a magazine feature writer; Gannett news staffer; and scriptwriter of the 12-part U.S. Modern American History video series From Cold War to Hostage Crisis: 1945-1981 for Guidance Associates. She contributed feature articles to The New York Times; was primary author of the book, Westchester County: The Golden Apple of New York; and worked as a technical and corporate communications writer. A blogger from 2015 to 2021, she paused at 60,000 words to bring her works of fiction to an eBook audience. Reggie publishes her written and narrated poems, short stories and nonfiction essays on reggiemorrisey.com.

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Author Interview: ‘Jalopy’ by Wes Verde

About the Book:

New Jersey, 1928.

All her life, Etta Wozniak has toiled on her family’s small farm, located on the outskirts of a lake resort town. After losing her mother and siblings to one misfortune or another, life has fallen into a rut of drudgery and predictability. That is, until the day she discovers something in an unlikely place; an old car. Energized by the prospects of a world beyond the one she knows, she decides to make this her last summer on the farm. However, disaster is not through with Etta yet, and there will be consequences for her upcoming departure.

Art Adams, a recent college man, arrives in town for a family reunion. After years of moving from one city to another and avoiding conflict whenever it tries to find him, he becomes enamored with the lake. However, there is another reason for Art’s visit. He is to marry a woman he has never met before; an arrangement that was made on his behalf and without his knowledge. More comfortable around numbers and machines than people, Art is reluctant to confront his parents on the matter. But if he decides to do nothing, he risks losing who and what he has come to love.

In a small town of farmers and firemen, musicians and moonshiners, bossy parents and barn parties, two people will come to understand what they must give up in order to have the chance to build something new.

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Purchase Links:

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Author Interview:

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

Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories of some form or another. I discovered stop-motion photography when I was about 7 and filmed adventures with my Legos. Writing short stories started at about age 13. In college, I started making 3-panel comic strips; little snippets that I sent to my friends or the student newspaper. For a while, it was just stuff that I did in my spare time. Then, around 2019, I got serious about putting a novel into print.

The appeal of writing fiction, for me, is twofold. It’s a creative release that can go in any direction I want, which is far less restrictive than my typical day at work. I’m an engineer by trade and most of what I do is figuring out how to make a bunch of moving parts function cooperatively towards a particular task. While writing is a different beast in many ways, I will often go through a lot of the same steps as I would for a technical problem, but instead of nuts, bolts, and friction I’m working with characters, settings, and flow. Funnily enough, each book finds me doing quite a bit of math in trying to answer the question, “Hm… would that work?”

If that sounds odd, I can’t fault you.

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

Probably my most productive time to write is early in the morning, before my kids wake up. That’s about the only time I can hope for any kind of quiet in the house and drink my coffee in a seated position. On the other hands, that’s also when the cat seems most demanding for attention… so mixed bag. Besides that, I make a habit of keeping a notebook around so I can quickly jot down ideas as they come to me.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Around four years ago, I developed an interest in history. Specifically, the history and lore of my home state of New Jersey. I grew up hearing and reading about a variety of different suburban legends (based on varying degrees of fact) and started reading more about them. There’s a book series called Images of America that has been crucial in this regard.

For example, my first novel Jalopy was based on some of the Garden State’s various lake towns that were vacation destination in the 1920s. I had known this in an abstract way for a while, but in the books I actually saw the pictures of vacationers juxtaposed with full time residents. The latter were often people working on farms, looking haggard as they posed for a photo in the middle of — what was surely — an exhausting day. That got me wondering if there was ever a “city mouse/country mouse” moment between a vacationer and a local who got together and how they sorted out who had the better situation. From there, enough of these elements started coming together where I finally decided to put pencil to paper.

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, to both. Usually, the way this thing goes is that I come up with a dozen or so story beats and elements that sound interesting. Maybe also a character or two — or rather, cardboard cutouts that will later approximate characters. On the first pass, I try to figure out if / how these beats can work together, drop the ones that simply won’t, and then attempt to thread them together. Next pass gets some meat added to the characters — quirks and habits — and a vague notion of how they might react to the things that are happening in the story.

It’s around this time that I have to drop and / or change a couple more plot points to fit with the developing characters. That may include the ending, but in general I start with a rough idea and try to stick with it.

So all that… then repeat about a million times… and I end up with a first draft… which will probably change again by print.

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

From a personal interest in local events and lore, I have made my literary home in historical fiction with a particular focus on New Jersey during the Interwar Period. Certainly the 1920s were mostly given a pass by my formal education, but in my own research I found a wealth of material and real world stories that are worth knowing about. In New Jersey alone, we had several towns that were flooded to make reservoirs, Greystone Asylum and its rich history, the factory which became infamous for the tragic story of the Radium Girls, and at least 2 major explosions resulting from war effort support. I suppose after reading about all that, I just kind of fell into historical fiction as a natural fit for a genre.

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

That’s a toughie… If you’ll pardon my playing somewhat fast and loose with years: for Roy Orville, I’d go with Robert Downey Jr. The man has a type, and “flippant but charming scoundrel” sums it up for me. I could see (maybe a somewhat younger) Idris Elba for Urbane Ferris. And for Victoria Boystov I’d go with one Polly Walker, probably best known for her role in the HBO series Rome

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

I love to read, but I don’t get much time for it. These days, I do most of my reading for my kids before bedtime. Right now, they are all about this series called Bat Kitty by Nick Bruel, which I can recommend to anyone with a cat — grownups included.

As for personal reading, I’m fond of Scott Lynch and Andy Weir. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a fine mix of the heist and fantasy genres with lovable scoundrels and a solid “buddy” plot at its heart. And I cannot help but marvel at a man who turned a series of blog entries — done in his spare time — that turned into a bestselling novel which turned into a movie which turned into a series of novels.

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

I’m currently working my way through The Institute by Stephen King, which my mother suggested for my TBR pile back in 2019. When I say “backlogged,” I mean it. The book has a lot going for it. If you enjoy the theme of government conspiracy, and mild paranormal elements, I would recommend checking it out. Caveat: I say this without having yet read the ending (Stephen King fans will know the struggle).

9: What is your favourite book and why? 

Another toughie… but in terms of re-readability, I have to say Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. On its face, it was just a fun story of adventure and magic, but on later read-throughs I started to appreciate the context of the framework story, and the elements of tragedy and mystery. Its use of realistic magic is also very engaging; well-described and restrained in its application. I could definitely recommend to fans of the fantasy genre who don’t mind an incomplete trilogy.

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

There’s any number of pitfalls, money sinks, and mistakes to ensnare the unwary first-time author. Watch out for anyone promising you incredible sales, a way to launch your book to the bestseller list, or other accolades “for a nominal fee.” Just don’t skimp on your cover.

Perhaps most importantly, do it because you enjoy it. I don’t plan to get rich off this. I just like to tell stories.

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

My website is probably the best way to see what I’m up to. I will usually post info and links about upcoming releases, blog tours, and other appearances there.

https://wesverde.com

About the Author:

Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

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Author Interview: ‘The Cave’ by Ruslan Alabaev

About the Book:

A young couple and their three friends go hiking in Australia. During their trip, they discover a coastal cave. They venture inside and discover a vast, underground cave ecosystem. The entrance to the cave network gets flooded, leaving them no choice but to explore it deeper, hoping to find another way out.

Inside the deep, dark caves, they get separated and have to face their fears alone. A mysterious creature approaches each of them and proposes a simple deal: Tell it a story, and if it likes your story – it will show you the way out. And if doesn’t? Then it will take something from you…

Will the unfortunate adventurers find their way out before being consumed by the caves, or will they have to take the gruesome deal from the mysterious creature and hope it likes their story?

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

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

I’ve had a passion for writing since I was a kid, and as I got older, I wanted to write something significant. I wrote my first book when I was 18 and my second at 23, but both were in Russian and meant to be more of an exercise that allowed me to share my ideas. But 4 years ago, I decided to write a book in English to reach and influence many more readers. Back then, I was ready to publish it, but this year, I finally found the courage to self-publish it and take that next step in my writer’s career.

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

Nope, I like to write when I feel the inspiration going and the ideas flowing into my mind. That could happen anytime and anywhere.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I consider myself to be an “idea generator.” Imagine a melting pot, where you throw bits and pieces of information from reading, movies, series, computer games, general knowledge, scientific papers, and anecdotal knowledge. I use all these sources as inspiration to come up with ideas for my books. Believe it or not, I often get the initial ideas in my dreams. Sometimes I dream vividly about something exciting, and when I wake up, I write down the dream’s plot to the best of my ability and later use it as the core inspiration for one of my books.

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?

I am one of those writers who don’t like creating a detailed blueprint for the entire book before writing it. Usually, I start writing the book with the main plot in mind and several ideas that I definitely want to include somewhere in the book. Other than that, I just start writing, and the chapters shape in the process.

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

I have 3 books, and “The Cave” is my first published work. The genres I write in can be quite different. I don’t have a specific direction or style that belongs to one genre. But, I would say that I lean towards horror and mystery because I love creating something you wouldn’t encounter in the real world to give people a world to escape to while they’re reading. 

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

Honestly? There are so many talented actors out there that can do such a fantastic job “delivering” the point and genuinely understanding the plot. So, I don’t care who would play the roles of my characters, as long as I can watch their work and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I envision it in my mind!”

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

I don’t read as much as the dedicated bookworms, but I like to read something super-exciting or informative. So, that could be one of Stephen King’s novels that I still haven’t got to or want to re-read, an indie author’s book that just grabbed my attention, or a non-fiction book that I feel could inspire me in some way, or enrich my knowledge.

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

Right now, I am reading “How To Be Rich” by J. Paul Getty, one of the wealthiest men of his time. It’s not so much about getting rich. It’s more of a guide on how to live your life more efficiently financially. And that’s something every person could improve in their lives.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Going back to my favorite author, Stephen King, my favorite book is “Pet Cemetary.” Back in high school, it had a significant impact on me and indeed showed me how good horror books should be written. I would say it’s one of my early inspirations to become a horror/mystery writer.

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

My advice is to just start writing. Many writers spend too much time planning the plot and every little detail in the book, which often gets them in a loop of perfecting everything without actually writing anything. I think a person should prepare a baseline plot and just start writing. As you write, many ideas and plot details come to you, making the process more fluent and productive. Besides, you can always edit anything you don’t like. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

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

At the moment, I try to stay away from Social Media, as it drains too much of my time, so the best way to get in touch with me would probably be through email. I know, it’s very old-fashioned.

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