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Author Interview: ‘In-Laws and Outlaws’ by Kate Fulford

About the Book:

She knows what’s best for her son, and it’s not you.

Eve has an idiosyncratic relationship with the truth, is a borderline psychopath (according to her psychologist friend Claire), and has a rather colourful past. But her heart is in the right place. Having recently met Gideon everything seems, at last, to be working out rather well for her. Then he introduces her to his mother. Marjorie clearly believes that she knows what’s best for her son, and it’s definitely not Eve.

Over the next few months Eve struggles as Marjorie seems hell-bent on undermining her relationship with Gideon at every opportunity. Then, a chance meeting with someone very close to Marjorie confirms Eve’s worst fears – there are literally no lengths to which Marjorie will not go to get Eve out of her son’s life. Using her own ingenuity, and with help from some very unexpected quarters, Eve finds herself caught up in a very high stakes game indeed, in which there can be only one winner.

 

What people are saying:

“So many secrets, so many characters involved, and Eve was playing them like marionettes! Great read.”
Scarlett Readz and Runz (Reviewer)

“There is so much going on in this book to keep the reader engaged. The characters are great. It is funny, fun, and just made me smile. I really enjoyed this book.”
Karen Whittard (Reviewer)

“This book was a nice surprise.”
Claire Sherman (Librarian)

“A hysterical read… Eve’s narrative digressions are pure enjoyment… will keep you in stitches. In-laws and Outlaws is the perfect diversion.”
Underrated Reads

“This was a fun read… there were many twists and turns.”
Winding Words

“Do yourself a favor and read this funny book.”
Goodreads

“A clever and well written book that I would highly receommend.”
Rachel Kennedy (Reviewer)

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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 live in London, a city I love with a passion and can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. I have been a freelancer for many years, first of all in brand development and then as a copywriter. I really enjoyed freelancing as it gave me time to focus on writing in between contracts.

I’ve always loved writing. I realised I might have some skill when at primary school my stories were turned into ‘books’ by Mrs Greenhalgh, while a tutor at university told me that my writing skills were instrumental in getting me a degree, as I could make it appear that I knew much more about a subject than was often the case.

Then I met an Australian and for six months we lived on opposite sides of the world. Every week I wrote this Australian a letter. I loved writing these letters and the Australian loved reading them. When we were finally reunited* I realised that I wanted to keep writing, so I started writing fiction.

Now I write fiction full time, except on Mondays when I volunteer at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. If you call them on a Monday to make a donation it might be me you speak to.

*Reader, I married him.

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

I try to write to treat writing like a job, and so I aim to begin at around ten, break for lunch at one and then write again from two until about five. That makes it sound as if I’m very self disciplined, which is not true. Whoever said that the pram in the hallway was the enemy of art had clearly never come across the internet.

Where I write depends on the weather. On sunny days I follow the sun from room to room, and when it’s cold I sit by the fire. I don’t have a desk (it feels too ‘worky’) but sit in an armchair with my PC on my lap. I’ve never written in a cafe. They are too noisy, offer too many distractions, and the coffee is cheaper at home.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes an idea might develop from something that’s happened to me, but then I take that and bend and twist into a narrative that I hope will engage people, as real life stories don’t tend to offer up perfectly formed story arcs without quite a lot of help.

Other times an idea might come out of a more abstract conceptual or philosophical idea that grabs my interest. I’m currently finishing a book inspired by the idea of the multiverse. This posits that there are infinite universes out there in which infinite versions of each of us exist. What might happen, I wondered, if you could visit these other universes?

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 usually have an overarching idea of the whole story. I will know a few of the key points on the way that I need to get my characters to, and I generally know how the story will end. From there a story will unfold, often in ways that are a complete surprise to me. Our heads are stuffed full of experiences, ideas, and connections that we aren’t consciously aware of. The process of writing, or doing anything creative, brings things into awareness that we didn’t even realise were there. It’s an amazing process.

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

I’m not sure I fall into a specific genre, although the best way to describe my writing might be contemporary women’s fiction. That doesn’t mean, though, that I write specifically for women. I hope that everyone can enjoy my stories. It is true though that my central characters, the ones that drive the story forward, are primarily women.

My heroines are intelligent, capable, resourceful women who solve their own problems. Romance might play a part in their stories, but it’s not the main driver. Women have an awful lot more other than romance and family concerns in their lives, and I don’t think enough stories reflect this. And funny, I can’t write serious novels, just can’t do it.

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

In-laws and Outlaws is written from the perspective of Eve, and as I wrote I kept hearing her speaking in Katherine Parkinson’s voice. She was in the IT Crowd on C4 and the first series of a comedy called Stop/Start on BBC R4. I think she is a brilliant comic actress. That’s as far as I got with casting I’m afraid!

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

I read all the time, but not always fiction. I love popular science books, and I’m fascinated by history. I’m never happier than when I learn something that gives me a new perspective on the world, but I like it when these books teach me things through people’s stories rather than by simply relating facts.

My first love is, however, fiction. To open a book and be immediately thrust into another, living breathing world, that seems as real as your own is as close to magic as it gets. I don’t have a favourite author, only books that have had a huge impact on me because they were so transformative and so immersive.

Some that come to mind include Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy, Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke. In some cases it was the story that principally grabbed me, in others the writing, and in the very best it’s both. Where I read also has an impact on my feelings about a book. I can recall the experience of reading each of the books I listed almost as vividly as the book itself.

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

I recently went to Amsterdam and I’m now reading Amsterdam by Russell Shorto, an American ex pat who lives there. It’s a social and political history of the city in which Shorto uses a mixture of historical fact and vivid personal stories to describe the history of the city and how it became the liberal capital of the western world. Fascinating.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Without a doubt it’s Pride and Prejudice. A feisty, opinionated heroine, a plot that works like a dream, and it’s funny! A masterclass in writing and one of the few books I can read over and over again and still be delighted by.

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

First, write. I heard a composer say that the magic only happens when he is sitting at his piano, and I think that the same applies to writing. You simply have to sit down and get on with it. And don’t fill your head with other writers’ ideas about how you should work. Where, when and how you write is unique to you, there is no magic formula.

Second, edit. No one writes beautifully or totally coherently straight out of the blocks. Think of a book as Michelangelo thought of the marble that became David. You have to start somewhere, and you have to chip away at it for a good long time. A lot of what you write will be lost by the final edit, but if it isn’t there to edit, you’ve got nothing!

Third, take advice. I learnt as a copywriter not to be precious about my work. Everyone benefits from getting help, so long as it’s constructive and comes from people whose judgement you have reason to trust, just take it and use it to make the work better.

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

To read a few pages of my book and to buy it visit – www.tinyurl.com/inlaws2018

To learn a little more about me and my writing visit www.facebook.com/KateFulfordAuthor or Twitter on @kate_author

 

About the Author:

Kate has had a varied career that has encompassed working in sales and marketing in the software industry, for brand and marketing agencies, several years as a freelance copywriter, and some time as a foster carer. She gained her first degree from the University of Warwick in the late eighties, but an interest in psychology led her to return to study many years later, when she obtained a Masters Degree from Goldsmiths, University of London. She did this with the idea that it might lead her in a new direction, which it did, just not in the way she had envisaged. At the back of her mind had always been the idea that she wanted to write fiction and so, having given up work to study and therefore having learned to get by on a lot less money, the time seemed right to turn what had only ever been a hobby into a full time endeavour. She has a distinctive authorial voice that refuses to take anything too seriously, not because she doesn’t think life is a serious matter but because she believes that it is almost always better when leavened with humour.

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Author Interview: ‘Redferne Lane’ by Sarah Scholefield

About the Book:

Ezra had it all when he died. A good job. A nice house. His loving wife, Grace.

Grace doesn’t even realise she’s struggling to keep herself together. Until Torin turns up in Redferne Lane. It’s been nearly two years since Grace has seen Torin. Since Ezra’s funeral. Now Torin is back in her life, emotions from the past are resurfacing and Grace begins to realise elements of her life are going wrong. She’s not sure she can take control.

But Grace isn’t the only one with problems in Redferne Lane. Josie has a husband and young family to contend with. Ada is facing the difficulties of old age. Jerome thinks he’s found the perfect girl. Eliza just wants to grow up. And Torin isn’t sure he should have what he wants. They all begin to turn to Grace for answers. Can Grace look beyond her own difficulties and help those around her, even while she’s trying to save herself?

 

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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 live in Somerset, with my husband and children, and our lovely cats. I juggle my time between looking after my children, writing and working at the local library. And when I’m not doing those things, you’ll find me reading. And it’s reading that got me into writing. I didn’t start seriously reading novels until I started studying at Uni, discovering that I liked stories more than my text books. I realised I’d been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember and I figured I should just start writing them down.

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

I’m very lucky to have a desk in a shed my husband converted into an outdoor room. It’s a little cave-like, with only a small window but it’s quiet and I don’t usually get disturbed. I like writing in the morning but often I don’t have the luxury of getting to choose when I write, so often it’s when I can steal a moment.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

All over the place! I’ll usually see or hear something someone says and it will trigger an idea. My stories usually begin with a character that takes a vague shape in my head. Then I take it from there, playing with setting, POV, tense and other characters once I start writing.

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?

It varies on each project, but I usually know the bare bones of what will happen in the story. Even if I start out with only a small idea of where the story is going, I usually find that I start plotting ahead to give each scene focus and meaning.

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

I write romantic fiction. Quite simply, because I love a love story. I want people to fall in love. I mean we all want to love and be loved. Relationships are an intrinsic part of life. And I like to explore all the many and varied ways we experience love and relationships.

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

I would love Grace to be played by Saoirse Ronan, I think she would be just perfect. James McAvoy would be Ezra. And Aiden Turner would be a fabulous Torin. Yes please!

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

I read every day. I love to get lost in a book. At the moment my favourite authors are Matt Haig, Maggie O’Farrell, David Nicholls, Jandy Nelson, to name but a few.

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

I’m reading ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman. It’s fabulous! Funny, sharp and perceptive.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

It would definitely have to be ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen. I know it’s not the most original choice but oh, how I love it. Every time I read it, I find a little something else I hadn’t noticed before and as you may have guessed I adore a love story.

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

Write, every day if you can manage it, even if you don’t have a main project, just write about what you see, even if it’s the washing-up or the cat washing its butt. Read, as much as you can. Read every day, trying picking up a new author, try something in a different genre. And read your own work, out loud if you can face it. Find some other local writers. Join, or start your own writing group. It is so valuable to have feedback on what you’re writing. It’s good to realize early on, that everyone will have an opinion of your writing and some times it isn’t kind. It’s good to grow a thick skin.

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

You can find me here:

Website: www.sarahscholefield.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/scholefield.sarah

Twitter: @SJLScholefield

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/17692758.Sarah_Scholefield

Thank you for the fabulous questions, it was a pleasure to take the time to answer.

About the Author:

Sarah Scholefield initially trained as molecular biologist gaining a BSc (Hons) in Biology from The University of the West of England. After realising she wasn’t cut out for life in a laboratory she worked in numerous schools across the West Country.

She has always enjoyed making up stories in her head and finally began to write them down. In 2014 she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Redferne Lane is her first novel.

She lives in Somerset with her husband and children.

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Author Interview: ‘Crooked Principles’ by Kevin Cady

Book Two of The Warren Files

About the Book:

Elijah Warren was a workaholic for the FBI, but during his hunt for the vicious “Poetic Murderer,” he fell in love with Aurelia Blanc–a beautiful and erudite forensic pathologist–and they barely escaped with their lives. They’ve since left the FBI for slower days and a mountain cabin, but a desperate call from remote Alaska leaves them not a choice.

Grizzly is a town of less than a hundred people, and for twelve straight years one of them has been killed. No one talks about the murders, like long-ignored secrets. In fact, it seems no one talks at all. But there’s a sick change in the pattern of death, and a mournful mother wants answers after her five-year-old son is stabbed and bludgeoned to death.

Something is very wrong in the diffident town of Grizzly, and stranded by the winter, Elijah and Aurelia face the killer daily, with paranoia as real as the icy air of Alaska. This is nothing like they’ve faced before. Whose dark past will reveal Grizzly’s secrets?

 

What people are saying:

“Cady’s writing is superb … Dark, engaging, and fast-paced.”
-Urban Book Reviews

“Cady’s nuanced prose scintillates and intrigues from beginning to end … As every piece is unearthed, momentum builds and fear intensifies.”
-Foreword Clarion Reviews

 

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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 live in Colorado Springs and am from Oxford, Ohio, where I grew up and graduated from college. I moved to Colorado for a master’s degree, and began writing The Warren Files after that was completed. Rock climbing, rock concerts, and teaching high school English occupy the remainder of my time.

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

I have a few different spots that really appeal to me. Home is certainly one of them. I have a small office at the house where much of my writing is done, where I can see the mountains as a distraction, but there are several spots around town where I consistently write. I at times need a change in scenery, and this accomplishes such a task. Really, anywhere with a view, I enjoy writing.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I’ll see something in life that sends my mind racing, and then it will be there, ever developing. I think my ideas percolate and tumble until they boil over, and I’ve got to get some words down. For example, I’ve been thinking about one particular story for several years, and it consistently is on my mind, and at a certain point, I’ll write something for it. It might just be the first chapter. It might be quite a lot more. And it might not be for another few years, but it’ll happen. Just not yet. I think this process defines how and where my ideas develop.

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?

The previous question addresses this a bit, but it’s definitely a combination! I always have an idea of what the story will be and how it will begin and end, but the middle allows me to discover how it all connects. A prolific author uses the metaphor of uncovering a diamond from earth. You see hints of promise and you follow those, not sure what you’ll find, uncovering what’s hidden in the earth of your own story. If you are aware enough, you’ll be able to uncover amazing components you didn’t prior realize existed. So it’s a cool combination of pre-planning and discovery.

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

My books will always have an element of mystery to them!

I’ve always loved mysteries because of how they can deceive. A great mystery writer is a magician. The secrets are unseen until the end, but, once revealed, they can seem even obvious in reflection. I love the, “It was right in front of my eyes! moment!

Murder/mystery was natural for The Warren Files, and I’ll certainly return to the exact genre (as I have all the characters’ histories I can write about!), but I have some other projects that, I think, completely fit into my writing universe; they’re just different. Two novels are a bit more in the horror genre. One is my ode to haunted house novels—and its likely next for completion, though, with the other being a twist on the western, no promises. I’m excited about both!

I’m really just excited to continue writing quality material, consistently, and hopefully in my own unique style for my growing readership.

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

Haha!

Danie, my girlfriend, and I joke about this a lot. We’ve battled some of the answers. I think this is the final cast…

Elijah- 90’s Patrick Dempsey

Aurelia-Rosario Dawson

Adams-J.K. Simmons

Riff-90’s James Brolin

We’ve got a great person to play the killer in the first book, but for the sake of description and gender anonymity…I must not include that one. : )

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

I read a lot and like a lot of different authors and styles. People like Mark Danielewski or Steven Hall stand out as people doing something really unique with the medium. But those authors don’t have a vast catalogue of writing to choose from.

Authors I return to consistently are ones like Peter Straub, Clive Barker, and Chuck Palahniuk. These are authors which have their own unique style and universe, but each book is different from the one prior. These authors consistently put out work in their own style. They’re unapologetically writing their own way, and I strive for this same thing.

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

Speaking of Clive Barker! I’m amidst his monster narrative Imajica. It’s this amazing story about a parallel universe and its dominions, and how they’re interconnected with our own! It’s sexy and dark and adventurous, and it’s a brick of a book, but it’s awesome!

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I’m going to return to Mark Danielewski, who wrote House of Leaves. This book challenged me in ways I’d never been challenged, but it was exceedingly worth it. It’s best not to share much about it. Reading the House is an experience different from any other, and the more time you spend in there, the more you understand it.

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

Get good, get tough, and get patient. I still need to remind myself of these things, as I’m far from achieving my writing goals!

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

It’s easy to find me on Facebook with a search of Kevin Cady Author, or Twitter the same. My website is kevincadyauthor.com, and that will be the most informative location! You can also find me (and review me!) on Goodreads, and Amazon.

Website: www.kevincadyauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Cady-Author

Twitter: @kevincadyauthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15263209.Kevin_Cady

Amazon page: www.amazon.com/Kevin-Cady/e/B01FWP3I4M

About the Author:

Kevin lives in Colorado Springs with his girlfriend, Danie, and their pets. He is a teacher at a local high school and earned degrees from Miami University, a bachelor’s in rhetoric, and Colorado College, a master’s in education. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him rock climbing or at the local metal shows. The books of The Warren Files are his first completed novels, with diverse side-projects not far behind.

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Author Interview: ‘The Zion Series’ by Brittany Nicole Lewis

Finding Freedom (The Zion Series Book 1)

About the Book:

Katie was born into a cult. Her family lived there for generations. As she got older, she realized the Elders were keeping secrets from the community. Risking everything, she leaves the cult and searches for the truth. With the help of outsiders, Katie and her young husband David are put in touch with an organization called Purple Haven, which provides medical care, shelter, counseling and job training to individuals who have escaped from cults. She soon discovers she’s pregnant. With the help of her husband, her therapist, and two friends, Katie learns what it means to have a relationship with God.

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

 

Heir of Zion (The Zion Series Book 2)

About the Book:

Michael felt like his life ended the day his family left. In a way, it did. While he struggled to remain composed when he was in the company of others, he allowed his thoughts and anxieties to consume him when he was alone. Though the life that he had always known had ended, a new one quickly emerged, one that had been suppressed by the Elders for far too long. While Michael struggled to wrap his brain around the information he was learning about his true identity and the community he had grown up in, his heart continuously pulled him toward a young girl and his new found romance, while it simultaneously ached for the family he lost.

 

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Purchase Links:

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Reunited (The Zion Series Book 3)

About the Book:

Just as Katie’s life is settling into a new normal after leaving Zion and the birth of her son, she is given news that will forever alter her reality.

Meanwhile, the moment that Michael has so desperately wished for, but never thought would come has finally arrived. He must make the hardest decision of his life, and if he doesn’t choose correctly, he could lose everything, forever.

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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 started writing when I was in elementary school and by the time I had finished high school I had written three books of poetry and two children’s books, as well as several short stories. I lost most of it when I moved when I was twenty, but later on I published a lot of the poetry. I always had trouble expressing myself verbally, and could communicate better through writing.

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

I prefer to write in the morning around six but that isn’t always possible, so right now I write whenever I can.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I was involved with a group of believers that had some rather strict beliefs about certain things. After I separated from that group I did a lot of studying and needed to figure out if I believed what I believed because it was true or because someone encouraged me to believe it. I wrote Finding Freedom so I could work out some personal things I was going through.

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?

Both. I have the general story planned out. Then I have a word count in mind. Then I say I want about 20 chapters, and from there I know each chapter needs to be roughly this many words. Then I break down the story into the beginning, middle and end and then map out the various scenes in each chapter. It isn’t abnormal for my books to change slightly as I am writing them, though.

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

I write Young Adult novels, children’s books and poetry books. Young Adult has always been my favorite.

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

I have no idea. I don’t watch very many movies and don’t keep up with actors and actresses except for the ones I’m friends with.

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

I try to read for about an hour every day. I don’t have a favorite author, but some I really enjoy are Chris Colfer, Lios Lowry, and Louis Sachar.

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

I am currently reading the last book in The Land of Stories series with my eight year old daughter.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

The Giver. I felt like Lois Lowry did a great job painting that world and her characters were very well developed.

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

Don’t give up when it gets tough, because it will get tough. Expect to put in a lot of work in the beginning, for very little or no pay. Keep going, eventually it will pay off. Write every day, even if you don’t want to.

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

You can find me on the following:

Website: www.brittanynicolelewisblog.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BLewis2008

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BLewis2008

Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorbrittanynicolelewis

 

About the Author:

Best selling author of Finding Freedom, most well known for her YA series, the Zion series and her works of poetry. Brittany enjoys helping women and teens who suffer from depression and anxiety and she regularly donates copies of her books to ministries.

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Author Interview: ‘Roses in December’ by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

Haunting and Macabre Tales 

About the Book:

Roses in December is a short story collection which defies categorisation. Some of the stories are haunting – others are deeply troubling.

A man receives a religious vision in his ordinary back garden; a nuclear physicist in Australia experiences a great surprise where he least expects it; a duct-tape salesman unsettles his faithful customer; Voltaire does not put his best foot forward; someone makes a grim discovery upon waking up in a prison; a psychiatrist does his best to treat a political extremist; a nineteenth-century photographer goes about his usual (and highly unusual) business; and a wealthy neighbourhood in Montreal becomes the scene of an immense and avoidable tragedy.

In twenty-two short (and extremely short) stories and fables, Matthew de Lacey Davidson cuts close to the unintended poetry and grimness of every-day existence, while at the same time enabling the reader to have compassion for those described therein.

 

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Author Interview:

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

I am multicultural: I was born in Toronto, Canada; grew up in Wellington, New Zealand; lived in Illinois, USA for sixteen years; moved to Montreal for 11 years; and am now resident in Nova Scotia.  The house in which I grew up (in New Zealand) had more books than you could shake a stick at, so in that respect, I was fortunate.  Most likely, this set the stage for my interest in writing.

I started drawing cartoons when I was a six-year-old and have had cartoons published in all three countries.  At one point, I was earning the monumental sum of $40 a cartoon!  My favourites were B. Kliban, George Herriman, and Charles M. Schultz, but, for the most part, I created single panel cartoons, usually with an extremely verbose caption.  I’m no Vincent van Gogh, so the cartoons were largely conceptual, and the words were probably better realised than the images.

My father was a professional actor for ten years, and I’m sure his love of Shakespeare affected me – I certainly grew up with a lot of ten-dollar-words flying around.  While doing my Bachelor’s degree in Music, I wrote, produced, and directed two plays.  I think the act of doing these productions at the age of 16 and 17 will always be more impressive than the “works” themselves could ever be.  I also did amateur theatricals as a student: I played Will Roper in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt; McKyle in The Ruling Class by Peter Barnes; and I played the Real Inspector Hound in the eponymous play by Tom Stoppard.  All these experiences made me sensitive to the world of script writing and having an ear for dialogue.

The mother and father of my best friend from high school were, respectively, a film editor and a film director. When I went over to their house to watch television, I would often get a running commentary (long before the days of the Director’s commentary we find on many DVDs today) on the technique of any given film.  While watching a heavily censored version (for New Zealand television) of Hitchcock’s Psycho, I remember seeing a scene where Anthony Perkins leans over the guest book of the Bates’ Hotel to make a comment on an entry.  Half of his face was obscured due to the lack of light, and the camera was looking upwards from the ground, underneath his neck and face.  My friend exclaimed, “What a brilliant shot!”  It was at that point that I started to appreciate the skill involved in good filmmaking, and the necessity of interesting camera angles.

My “writing,” such as it was for most of my life, consisted mostly of song lyrics, greatly influenced by Stephen Sondheim, and the occasional comic verse.  I also wrote several “comic essays” along the same lines as S. J. Perelman, but only one of them ever got published, in 1989 (“Reluctance”).  That story, and two others written in that year, are now part of the collection entitled, Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales.  I also wrote the notes for the twelve compact discs, which I recorded and commercially released between 1994 and 2008.

Until 2015, music composition and piano performance had been my central interest.  I also have a degree in Social Work.  These experiences, I believe, have added to the depth of what I write.

I never had any intention of doing any “serious” writing, until, with my wife’s encouragement; I enrolled in a single-term poetry-writing course at McGill University in 2015.  It was taught by Sue Sinclair.  I wasn’t even interested in writing poetry, per se, I just wanted to become more skillful at writing song lyrics, so I could do a better job writing a libretto for an opera I had planned.  However, as the course progressed, I found, to my surprise, that I had a knack for writing metered, rhyming poetry.  While in the class, for the most part, I wrote what might be loosely termed, “light verse” but became adept at writing more serious works as well.  One of my earliest poems was one about the brief life of the photographer Francesca Woodman, which was modelled after Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. Eventually, three collections came about as the result of this experience.  I edited the poems non-stop for about two years, and threw out a lot of them, finally releasing two collections: Please Don’t Forget Me, and What Souls Might Bear.  The best bit of writing advice I ever got was from Ms. Sinclair, to wit, “Show, but don’t tell.”

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

I’ve always considered two o’clock in the afternoon to be a “magical time.”  But seriously, I’m usually so busy, that I grab a minute here; catch a second there, during commutes, during lunch breaks, on weekends, whenever a small window of opportunity presents itself.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Usually from real life.  I find doing so adds greater realism, because, I believe, truth is stranger than fiction. However, I am not a great fiction reader, preferring non-fiction and history.  Stories I have heard from others often are a source, but in addition, news stories give great suggestions.  Apparently, I choose very controversial topics, although I’ve never felt that they were controversial in any way, at least, not to me.  For instance, one of my short stories, The Road to Hell, is the result of hearing news stories about racism that educated women of colour experience on airplanes in North America.

A serendipitous trip to Kingston, Ontario, resulted in a long poem, Shine Out, Fair Sun.  ViaRail, Canada’s cross-country train system, once cancelled a train, which my wife and I had booked to Ottawa, Ontario.  This resulted in a truncated trip, and a complaint to the company.  After an hour of complaining, they finally agreed to a free return ticket to Kingston.  While walking in the historic downtown area of Kingston, my wife and I saw an advertisement for a “Haunted Tour.”  We thought it might be fun.  On this tour, there was a story regarding some “resurrectionists” – or grave robbers.  I had never heard of such a thing.  I did extensive research and discovered that grave-robbing was one of the most lucrative and rapidly-expanding trades in the English-speaking world in the late 18th and early 19th century, due to the increased demand for cadavers in the medical community, for the purpose of anatomy classes.  I originally wanted to write a novel, but ultimately decided to compose a “long poem” using this as a topic.  Apparently, an epic poem can only be the product of a “great nation,” and according to the classicists, North America cannot be defined as a “great nation.”  In deference to the opinion of the classicists, I gave the poem the sub-title of “an Almost-Epic Poem.”

The novel that I am currently in the process of editing and publishing, Precept, is a fictional account of the four months that 19th century civil rights leader Frederick Douglass spent in Ireland.  The story behind what suggested this to me is a little more convoluted.  While watching a DVD of the film Lincoln, directed by Stephen Spielberg, I started to ask myself, “Where are all the black people?”  I mean, I saw a couple of nameless soldiers, and a butler, and a maid, but nobody else.  Then I started to ask, “Where is Frederick Douglass?”  Now, you cannot discuss American history, Civil War history, the history of slavery, or history in general without acknowledging Frederick Douglass.  He was probably the most eloquent Orator of all time, and of paramount importance in the fight to abolish slavery.  Nonetheless, what I saw in Lincoln made me feel so upset, that I started to read up on Frederick Douglass myself, and found an interesting little historical tidbit, to wit, that he spent four months in Ireland when escaping possible recapture as a “fugitive” slave.  Also, that the country had almost as much of a profound impact upon him, as he did upon it.  I thought, “What a marvelous idea for an historical novel.”  Then I thought, “How could I accomplish such a thing successfully?”  So, I chose the narrator to be a young Irish boy who witnesses and observes Mr. Douglass.  And much of what he sees goes unexplained, as children don’t understand everything that goes on around them.

The short answer to your question is – I don’t find subjects to write about; they find me!

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?

What was interesting to me is that when I started to write seriously, I realised many of the same concepts discussed in the composing music are transferable to creative writing.  In both instances, I need an overall plan.  I structure everything very clearly before writing a word.  I think about everything first, including diction and dialogue; then I commit words to “paper” and it all comes together very quickly.

For instance, the structure of Precept is loosely based on that of The Great Gatsby.  There are a small number of long chapters.  In my book, however, the first three chapters are an exposition; the second three chapters are a “development” of sorts, but they are all epistolic in nature; and the final three chapters are the conclusion and dénouement.  This creates a sort of “mirror shape.”

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

That is a good question and difficult to answer.  My creative writing does not fit neatly into any category, and that makes my work very difficult to market.  My poems are somewhat influenced by Allen Ginsberg and New Zealand poet James K. Baxter, so there is a social-consciousness element attached to most of them.  My short stories might be loosely termed, “Sort-of-but-not-quite-Urban-or-Suburban-Gothic” and all of them deal with individuals who are confronted with difficult or impossible life situations which leave them little to no choice in their lives.  True ghost or “horror” stories do not interest me.  My novel, Precept, is an historical novel.  While it does not mince words about the truly appalling conditions found in, and the nature of, 19th century slavery, I’m not so sure that there is anything truly “Gothic” about that – it is just realistic.  In fact, quite a lot of the dialogue uses direct (that is, public domain) quotes from Douglass’ letters and speeches.

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

Having staged my own student theatricals in the past, my experience has shown me that it is always best to cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

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

A good writer, in my opinion, must read widely.  That’s how you learn.  Shakespeare is definitely my favourite, not just for the technical skill and wide vocabulary, but for the profundity of the characters he created in his plays. Similar to the composers whose work I enjoy, I find it difficult to say “I like so-and-so” because quite often authors wrote only a small number of truly great works.  I like a number of poems by Philip Larkin, Elisabeth Bishop, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Goethe, Victor Hugo, Kenneth Rexroth, Edmond Rostand, Emily Dickinson, Countee Cullen, John Keats, W. B. Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Jacques Prévert, and James K. Baxter.  I enjoyed Danté’s Inferno, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.  There are too many good poets to name them all.  For short stories, I prefer some of the works by Truman Capote, Bernard Malamud, Katherine Mansfield, F. Scott Fitzgerald (not the ones published in his lifetime, but the posthumous ones), Somerset Maugham, and Nikolai Gogol.  I like Any Old Iron by Anthony Burgess, but not A Clockwork Orange; some of the novels by Jane Austen; A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh; and George Orwell’s Animal Farm, but not 1984.  My favourite biographer is Claire Tomalin, whose books, I believe, set the standard by which all others may and should be judged; I enjoy some of John Kenneth Galbraith’s books; and some of David Sedaris’ stories make me laugh out loud.

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

Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I am also struggling to read Virgil’s Aeneid in Latin and English, but it is slow going.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

My favourite book when I was growing up was Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Sometimes Zeppo, by Joseph Adamson. I read it over and over again during those years.  It is a great example of how to write wittily and well.  And by using quotes from famous authors throughout the book, he makes the point that comedy, like literature, can aspire to high Art.  I would struggle to name a current favourite book, but certainly one that fascinates me the most right now is Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn.  The best reason I can come up with is that it challenges the reader to confront his or her own prejudices.

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

If memory serves, I believe that poet Mary Oliver says in one her books, something along the lines that if you have a choice between doing your own writing or reading another writer, one should choose to read someone else’s writing first.  In my opinion, preferably, the classics.  Too many writers are not aware of what has been done in the past, and as a result, one encounters no cultural, sociological, nor historical context; and further, no one benefits by re-inventing the wheel.  In addition, if someone is going to try and be socially conscious in what they write, they need to be aware that there is a very fine line between making socially conscious artistic statements, and creating propaganda – or just plain preaching.  I stand to be corrected, but I believe it was Alice Walker who once wrote that if you are going to write political treatises, you should probably stay away from fiction writing.

In the 19th century, creative writing was deemed to be worthwhile only if there was a strong, judgmental, purported “moral” to be gleaned.  This was the reason why homosexual characters (or women who have extra-marital affairs) in the novels of that era, always come to no good end.  Even Oscar Wilde, who was gay himself, was not immune from this sort of thing as one sees in The Picture of Dorian Gray, an obvious allegory for someone like Wilde, who leads a “secret life”.  My strongest hope is that everyone should find that attitude towards writing perverse.  “Moral ambiguity” and not openly judging the characters is always more interesting, and a more artistically sound method of story telling, in my opinion.  In other words, let me think for myself.  Stories that let the reader decide what is right from wrong will stand the test of time.  It is the advantage a truly great film like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing will always have over obviously silly films, like certain Westerns or Police/Action movies where there are excessively-clearly defined “Goodies” and “Baddies.”

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

Website: www.matthewdelaceydavidson.wordpress.com

Amazon Page: www.mazon.com/author/matthewdelaceydavidson

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/16327172.Matthew_De_Lacey_Davidson

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_de_Lacey_Davidson

 

 

About the Author:

Matthew de Lacey Davidson is the author of two poetry collections and a play in verse.  In addition, he is a composer and pianist and has released 12 compact discs.  His poetry and short stories have been published by Grammateion, and the online literary journal, Danse Macabre; music analyses by SCI; cartoons and reviews by TOM Magazine; and cartoons by Canadian Science News.  He has written the music, libretto, and lyrics for a chamber opera, The Singing Lesson, based on three short stories by New Zealand author, Katherine Mansfield. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with his wife, Shayna, and a plethora of Siamese and Tonkinese cats.

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