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Author Interview: ‘Spine Chillers’ by Q.L. Pearce

About the Book:

The town of Saltlick Bluff is famous for an urban legend. Does the spirit of a young girl wait on a misty cliff-hugging highway for her ride to the prom?In the house on Beech Street a terrible tragedy occurred. Now neighbors won’t look at the place as they pass. Those who live nearby draw their blinds and shutter their windows after dark. What are they afraid of?

Hale Hallow Woods seems sinister and menacing even in the light of day. Does a thirst for revenge beat near its dark heart?

The answers lie within these pages, just waiting to send a chill up your spine!

“Spine Chillers: Hair-Raising Tales is a unique blend of fear and fun – a collection of haunted worlds you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. Pearce reveals her secrets masterfully – and each one packs a spookier punch than the last.” ALISTAIR CROSS, BESTSELLING AUTHOR

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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’m Canadian-born to British parents. I spent my infancy in Baranquilla, Colombia, my early childhood on an island in Florida, my teen years in Palm Springs, California, and my early adulthood in New York City. Currently, I live in California with my wonderful husband, two very spoiled dogs, a talkative bird and a bevy of fish. My daughter recently graduated from college and now lives in San Francisco.

I’ve loved writing since I was a child. I won my first school writing contest in third grade and my first city sponsored contest at age eleven. I actually got into a little trouble when I was a kid for telling scary stories that frightened my friends.

As an adult, my first paid publication was an activity book about dinosaurs. I have since written more than 120 books including educational, nonfiction, biography, and fiction for all age ranges. My absolute favorite is scary fiction for middle grade to YA readers. Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs, my first collection of short stories, was published as a middle grade series by Price, Stern, Sloan.

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

When I write I usually sit at my dining room table. I have a home office with a desk, but my dogs prefer the main room and I like to work with them close by. I begin my day with meditation even before my first cup of coffee. I start reading and research by mid-morning then spend two or three hours writing. My dogs take me out for walks a couple of times a day and I use that time to brainstorm. I usually write for another hour or so at the end of the day.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from everywhere…magazines, newspapers, travel. An offbeat article about Scottish castles or crop circles might catch my eye and suggest a story. I might see a strangely shaped tree while on a hike and wonder what lurks at its roots. I enjoy prowling through antique stores for curious objects or photographs that might spark an idea, or hiking around in new environments to use as settings. My dear friend, author Tamara Thorne, and I sometimes take road trips. We visit haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, all for inspiration.

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?

For nonfiction I work with an outline. For fiction I loosely sketch out the beginning, middle, and end of each manuscript, get to know my characters, then start writing.

I don’t accept writer’s block without a fight and I never just stare at an empty screen. When I’m working on a first draft I try to keep going. I write anything as long as words are on the page. I try not to self-edit too much until the general manuscript takes shape. Once I have something to work with I can go back and edit and tweak. Sometimes that approach can take your work in surprising directions that really work.

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

As a reader I am drawn to plot-driven books that have a mystery at the core. I have found that good paranormal tales keep me turning pages. As a writer, middle grade to YA horror, sci-fi and mystery are my favorites. I enjoy the world building and the suspension of disbelief required in a ghost story. Things that go bump in the night are part of my British heritage and I enjoy researching creepy tales and urban legends.

I remember reading one of Stephen King’s early books, Salem’s Lot. It terrified me! It’s a vampire novel and I was so caught up in the lore I felt safe reading it only during the day. For weeks after I finished it I kept a nightlight on in my room because I was so creeped out.

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

Since Spine Chillers, Hair-Raising Tales is a collection of seven short stories about tweens and young teens, the cast would be young and there would be quite a few of them. If I could pick from child actors of any era my dream cast would include: Natalie Portman, Jaimie Bell, Quvenzhané Wallis, Chloe Moretz, Roddy McDowall, Abraham Atta, Rory Culkin, Catinka Untaru, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Billy Mumy, Patty McCormack, Natalie Wood, and the entire child cast of Goonies.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.

I read a lot. My list of favorite authors includes Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Moore, and James Howe. When it comes to horror, I love Shirley Jackson’s work, particularly The Haunting of Hill House. As a child of the Twilight Zone age I prefer tales with unusual twists and turns rather than stories that are gory.

Ray Bradbury is one of my heroes. I love his writing style and he was the master when it came to short stories. I had the opportunity to hear him speak once. He was just as wonderful in person. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Roald Dahl wrote some wonderful children’s books, like The Witches and The Twits. His work could be sweet and sentimental, whimsical, scary or darkly humorous. Sometimes all in the same book.

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

I just finished Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Now I’m starting Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Next in line…Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott, and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

That’s such a difficult question! I suppose out of everything I have ever read, Animal Farm by George Orwell made the biggest impression on me. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Coraline and The Graveyard Book are also on the list.

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

The advice I give to working writers is finish what you start. I have several manuscripts that are sitting in a file folder because I didn’t push through when I hit a weak spot. Once that happens I start second-guessing and lose momentum.

The advice I would give to those who enjoy writing horror is to let the readers do some of the work. The unknown is deeply emotional. Provide the story, the characters, atmosphere, the dread, but don’t fill in every detail. Leave some room for the reader’s imagination to personalize the fear.

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

I have a website at www.qlpearce.com

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Q.-L.-Pearce

YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=db4aQLSyKMg&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ql.pearce

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/q-l-pearce

Excerpt from Spine Chillers:

Prom Date

The Roller Grille was the real deal. An authentic drive-in restaurant with car hops on roller skates delivering trays of burgers and fries to people parked outside. It had been in business for decades. Other than a fresh coat of paint now and then it hadn’t changed from the day it opened.Tyler, Andy and Jacob threaded around the cars and pushed through the glass doors to the diner. A hostess dressed in a fuzzy sweater and a poodle skirt guided customers to booths covered in red vinyl. A candy-colored jukebox blared from a corner. The laughter and chatter of the crowd was louder than the music. Tyler noticed Shay jammed into a booth with her friends. He raised a hand in greeting but she ignored him.

Andy pointed to the long soda fountain. “There’s room over there.” Tyler nodded and they each claimed a stool.

“What’ll it be?” Randy, the soda jerk adjusted his black bow tie and gave them a toothy grin. The boys ordered shakes.

Andy whirled around once on his stool and stopped to face Jacob. “So do they have any place like this in Phoenix?”

“No. This is pretty cool.” He looked around and his eye settled on a wall of photographs. “Who are those people?”

“Those are the prom kings and queens from the high school,” Tyler answered.

“Wow there’s like a hundred of them. What’s the deal with those two?” Jacob pointed to a black and white photo that was larger than the rest.

Tyler slipped into telling the story that everyone in town knew by heart. “That’s Johnny Tonnarro and his girlfriend, Samantha. He was like a rock star a long time ago. He got killed in an accident off Yetter Point.”

“It was a foggy night. He drove his car off the cliff and got squished like a pancake,” Andy added. “His girlfriend waited for hours in the cold for him to show up. She was all dressed for the prom and crying like a baby.”

Jacob gazed at Samantha’s sweet face. “That’s sad. What happened to her?”

Tyler lowered his voice for effect. “She drowned a year later on the anniversary of the accident. She was down on the jetty throwing flowers out into the ocean, those stinky white ones…gardenias. A wave swept her off the rock. Some people say they’ve seen her.”

“Seen her? What do you mean?”

Andy took up the story again. “Every year around this time her ghost waits out on Thorne Road near Highway One for Johnny to pick her up. Just standing there crying.”

Randy placed the shakes in front of the boys and joined in. “This time of year the evenings are usually foggy,” “They say she waits just off the edge of the road in the mist – lavender gown, white gloves, and gardenias in her long, blonde hair.”

Jacob’s mouth dropped open and his eyes grew wide. “Really? A real ghost? You’ve seen her?”

Taylor and Andy couldn’t hold back their laughter. “Nobody’s seen her,” Andy snickered. “It’s all made up. Not the accident part but the ghost part.

Jacob frowned. “So Samantha didn’t really die?”

“Oh, yeah. She died alright. She drowned. But only little kids and tourists swallow the ghost story. You have to be a real lamebrain to believe it. Last year the town newspaper offered a ten thousand dollar reward for anybody who could get a photograph of her. There were a lot of fakes but nobody’s earned the money yet.”

Still grinning, Tyler turned to take a sip of his milkshake and caught a glimpse of Shay. She was staring toward the entrance. If looks could kill, her eyes were lethal weapons. Tyler followed her gaze.

“Uh oh,” he whispered and his smile faded. His brother was holding the door open for Anilla Jacoby, Shay’s arch-enemy. Anilla beamed up at Lane and slipped her arm through his. The couple slid into a booth. Shay stood and stormed toward the door without looking at them.

“This isn’t good,” Tyler muttered.

A moment later his phone beeped. He read the text. Come outside now. We need to talk. Shay was waiting for him as he pushed open the door.

“I thought I would die of embarrassment. I can’t believe he would show up here in front of everyone with that airhead hanging on him like that. Now I know why he’s been avoiding me.” She turned on Tyler. “How long has this been going on?”

“Don’t ask me. This is the first time I’ve seen him with Anilla.”

“He needs to pay a price for humiliating me like that. I want to embarrass him in front of all of his friends!”

Tyler shifted nervously. “Shay I don’t want to…”

“Think of something!”

“Look, Shay. Maybe you should just let it go. He’s my brother. I can’t …”

“I’m not going to let this go, Tyler.” She leaned in and growled. “You’re with me or against me. And trust me, if you want to survive high school you don’t want to be against me. I can make your life miserable.” Shay turned and stomped away.

Excerpt from Spine Chillers, by Q.L. Pearce
Copyright © Glass Apple Press 2016.

About the Author:

Q.L.Pearce is the author of more than 120 books for young readers, from picture books to YA, as well as film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time. Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala Sa (Carolrhoda Books, with co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi), received several awards including a Carter G. Woodson Book Award gold medal from NCSS and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold medal. Her fiction includes the popular middle grade series, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs italisize (Price, Stern, Sloan). Q believes strongly in the value of scary books for young readers. When asked what credentials she has which qualify her as an expert in this area she replies, “I was a child once. That was very scary.”

 

Author’s contact info: contact@bamliterature.com or http://www.qlpearce.com/contact

Books by Q.L. Pearce

Mysterious Encounters: Mysterious Disappearances

Mysterious Encounters: Mothman

Mysterious Encounters: Reincarnation

Mysterious Encounters: La Llorona

Mysterious Encounters: Ghost Hunters

Scary Stories for Stormy Nights

More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Still More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Even More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Super Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

The 25 Strangest Mysteries in the World

50 Scariest Places and Strangest Mysteries

Blood Moon Harbor (co-author Francesca Rusackas)

Gross Science Experiments

Monsters: Wendigo

Monsters: The Furies

Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist

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Author Interview: ‘Moon River’ by Amber D. Tran

About the Book:

In this debut novel from author Amber D. Tran, a tale of adolescence and heartbreak unfolds. Nine-year-old Abigail Kavanagh first meets Ryan Mills during the summer of 1999. A shy and awkward boy, Ryan hides behind his wide-framed glasses while Abigail is determined to learn everything there is to know about him. The next few summers are filled with birthday parties, adventures in and around the West Virginian mountainsides, and late night conversations where they share their most secretive and personal thoughts.

Their friendship starts to crumble when Abigail befriends the attractive and musical Lilly Anderson, a girl who is also interested in uncovering the mysterious nature surrounding Ryan. However, everything comes to an end the summer of 2004, and Abigail must decide if her new journey is worth traveling alone.

 

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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?

My name is Amber D. Tran, and I was born and raised in West Virginia. I currently live in northern Alabama with my husband and two dogs. I started writing when I was in the 5th grade. A few years later, I began writing poetry and nonfiction. I have written all types of genres, and I continue to expand my writing styles as I journey through my writing career.

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

I write for a few hours each evening. My favorite place to write is on the couch, next to an open window, with a candle to set the mood. I especially enjoy writing during rainy days and dusk!

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Most of my ideas are random, to be honest. There are times where I am shopping for groceries and my mind comes up with the perfect little story. My dreams also inspire some of my ideas, for which I am thankful.

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 let the story carry me as I go. I never use outlines. I have tried, and they just do not work for me. My biggest struggle is actually starting the story. Writing the first page takes as long as writing the next ten.

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

My book is a coming-of-age tale with young adult/new adult conflicts and a very rural-driven setting. The book is inspired by real-life events that occurred in West Virginia many years ago. The coming-of-age genre is very interesting to me. I have enjoyed creating characters and growing up with them on pages.

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

Oh, this sounds like fun! I have never thought about this! I imagine the two main characters (Abigail and Ryan) being played by younger versions of Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

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

I definitely read. I could not call myself a writer without doing my homework. I read about one or two books a week, give or take a few. My favorite authors are Amanda Boyden, Kelly Braffet, R. A. Nelson, Kerry Cohen, and Gary Soto.

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

I’m currently reading Symbol of Hope, book two in the Natan Fleet Show. It is part of a series written by my friend, K. E. Ireland.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

My favorite book is Pretty Little Dirty. I really, really love this book because I can relate so much with the protagonist. I lived a similar childhood and lifestyle as the protagonist and could relate with her on almost every single level. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has had a love-hate relationship with their best girlfriend.

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

Always read. Often I believe reading to be more important to a writer than writing. We cannot call ourselves writers without doing our homework. Make time to read, even if that means you do not have time to write. It is important to stay up-to-date with new genres and techniques.

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

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @amberdtran. My personal website, www.amberdtran.com, includes more information about my background, how to purchase my debut novel, and my publication history. I’m always available for email exchanges at amberdtran@gmail.com. Connect with me! I look forward to it.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the heart of the Appalachia, Amber spent her childhood growing up on gravel roads and playing Pokémon Red on her Game Boy Color. At the age of 10, she discovered her fascination with creative writing and turned a 1-page homework assignment into a 35-page document for her 5th grade teacher. Less than a year later, she wrote her very first book about a female basketball player with leukemia. She will spare you the pain from having to read it.After graduating Magna Cum Laude from West Virginia University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a concentration in creative writing, Amber moved to northern Alabama. She married her husband after meeting him in a Dragon Ball Z chat room. She is currently employed as a senior technical writer and Scrum Master for a software company. In her free time, she enjoys playing League of Legends and discovering dive bars with her girlfriends.

Amber is part of the West Virginia Writers Group, Inc., the Alabama Writers’ Forum, and the Alabama Writers Conclave. She is also the Editor-in-Chief for the Cold Creek Review literary journal. Her work has been featured in Sonic Boom Journal, Spry Literary Journal, Cheat River Review, Speculative 66, Visitant Literary Journal, HeartWood Literary Magazine, and more.

Amber lives in Alabama with her husband and two dogs, Ahri and Ziggs.

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Author Interview: ‘Last Voyage a the Vengeferth’ by Greg S. Schindler

About the Book:

An adventure tale pitting man against nature. The Vengeferth pirates meet a great white shark, then they’re capsized by a rogue wave. Seven crewmen escape the overturned ship to spend months a’ sea in a smallboat. During that time they share stories from their lives. They encounter the Crazy Cousin, a foundering ship with a broken pump and a belly full of water. And she has more problems.This book is suitable for a mature ten year old, or an older reader of any age. It’s historically quite accurate to the time, and a vocabulary builder. Amid his half page introduction, Wil DeVoe, the narrator and first mate, explains why he’ll leave out the hardest language: Aye, ‘twas there, salty sprinkled through, as wherever seafaring men are found. But I swear the tale can be well told without it. (‘Tis humor, swearing not ta use the swearing words.) I must leave out the hardest language, or apologize ta the ladies an’ youngsters on its account.

The author’s poetry background is evident in passages like the moment the rogue wave, (a wall), is seen: Wallllll!!! A second’s prayer in my head begged I’d misheard ‘im shrilling squall. But all the raw fear’d ripped through his voice. Hair on necks prickled, as eightysome eyes flew ta the horizon. “Port bow” was gasped, an’ heads swiveled. This bleary gaze saw a silver sword blade stretched across the distance, sparkling with the sun. My white knuckles clasped the rail as my knees tried ta buckle.

“Four ta the oars!” Captain barked. “The rest below! Tighten ship, douse candles, an’ hug a bed leg! Batten down all but aft hatch! Doc, raise the weather flag ‘fore ya go down!” His words rang, sharp, quick, an’ clear, like sword clangs in a hot fray.

The reader now learns what a wall is: There’s a thousand ways the sea can reach out an’ tear the life from your gut. Great whites, straight up from the bowels hell, might enjoy ya as tasty snack. Squids, snakes, eels, gators, an’ such rarely take a liking ta ya–only once, given a chance. Some beasts roam such depths they go unnamed, but for swearword names on final breaths. Huge Ice chunks can sidle up an’ rend your hull, bow ta stern, appearing sparkly white an’ innocent. Spritely water spouts dance a’ times on waves, as coy as comely lasses, yet if one goes full grown, she’ll twirl ya on a short path up ta heaven, or screw ya down ta hades if ‘tis where you’re expected. Chances a surviving such scourges are precious slim, yet they exist.

Then there’s a wall, the ocean’s most seldom, yet certain, grim reaper. Sailors whisper ‘tis the hand a God sweeping all crumbs from the table ta the floor.

Tis a mammoth wall a water, wide an’ tall, charging madly ‘cross the sea like a raging bull. An’ I do mean wide an’ tall. Span may be vast beyond imagination. Height might go two ships. Measurements are guesswork, fathomed from results. A wall rushes fearsome fast at brains too far befuddled ta consider measure. Small time facing a wall’s meant for making peace with God, not finding measure sticks. Yet if a soul found time an’ means ta measure, who’d hear?

Crumbs on the ocean floor don’t talk.

This is an enjoyable tale for adventure lovers of any age.

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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’m 72—older than I ever expected to be and older than I look. Born in a Detroit suburb, I got a BA and then went to San Francisco in the early 70s. Met and married my wife there, and we moved to New York City in mid-seventies. Moved back to Michigan in ’79. We had our kid soon thereafter. He has the PhD, my wife a MA and I’m low on the totem pole. My son’s a university professor in England.

I began writing poetry in a high school creative writing class. In college I majored in English and wrote for the school paper. I turned to songwriting in the seventies. My first book (Footprints) was three equal parts—poetry, songs and humor. My second was a children’s book (Great Speckled Banana’s Great Quest) and my third was about sex (Love is the Smile). My next two were children’s books. Then came a science fiction book (Shrugg, One Mile) and my new one is about pirates (Last Voyage a the Vengeferth). They’re all on Amazon.

All but my latest are on my website: <g-a-schindlerauthorpage.com> I feel that when a writer gets a good idea he/she should write it in the form it best fits, and a good writer should be capable of doing that.

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

I often get ideas at night in bed, or as I’m waking up, particularly while I’m working on something. For me it’s imperative to get out of bed and go to the computer. Sleep erases ideas.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

If I knew that, I’d be more prolific. Actually ideas abound, it’s sorting out the worthwhile ones that’s the challenge. I do think attending writing groups stimulates ideas. I got the idea for my Last Voyage a the Vengeferth at one such meeting.

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?

With prose I start out with some big ideas on where I’m going, then as soon as possible I write the ending. Then it’s just a matter of filling in the little ideas in middle. Sounds easy. If it were so, again I’d be much more prolific.

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

I feel that when you get a good idea you should write it in the form it best fits, and if you’re a good writer, you’re capable of doing that. I might write a sequel to my sci-fi book, if I can just think up an ending nearly as good as the great one I put in the first book.

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

The narrator/first mate would be Hugh Lorie, Doc would be Mark Rylance, the captain would be Tom Hughes, and Eddie Redmane would be Reed. It would be an awesome movie. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps.

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

I used to read much more. Now when I read, I feel like I should be spending the time writing. I also find it difficult to get caught up in a book. I spend too much time being critical of the writer. I do go to the movies, though there are few good ones these days.

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

None. I’ve been too busy writing, editing, making the cover, publishing and now trying to publicizing my Last Voyage a the Vengeferth. I do have a book partially written that I may go back to soon. And it’s nearly spring, time to spend time in the garden on my other hobby—hybridizing daylilies.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Would three do? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, and “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It’s hard to say why. I just hope to write something nearly as good someday.  

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

Stop thinking and start writing. So many people are out there saying that they’re someday going to write a book. Find a writing group to join. Don’t quit your day job.

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

My full bio is on my Amazon site. My website: www.g-a-schindlerauthorpage.com has all but my latest book on it. I can’t get on there to edit it.

About the Author:

G. A. Schindler was born Gregory Allen Schindler in 1946 in Center Line, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. There he grew up with three brothers and a sister. His father, Walter, was a factory worker who sang in the Detroit Rackham Choir and was an avid gardener. Walter made extra money for the family selling plants and cut flowers at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. He often soloed in church and sometimes at weddings. His mother Anna, (94 and doing fine thank you–sharp as a tack and still walking about three miles per week), was active in civic affairs.

In 1970 he received a degree in education with an English major from Eastern Michigan University. Some time spent teaching English, journalism and creative writing in a Detroit area high school convinced Greg that teaching wasn’t his calling, so he traveled to San Francisco. During three years in the bay area, he met and married his wife, Susanna. They celebrated their forty first anniversary in March of 2015. In the mid-seventies, the couple moved to New York City, nearer her family, and three years later they traveled to Michigan to settle down in Sterling Heights, near Detroit where they live today.

Mr. Schindler was a cab driver, apartment building manager, and locksmith in California and New York, then a social services worker seventeen years in Detroit. He went on to start a cab company from which he retired in 2012. He’s quite proud to describe himself as “low man on the totem pole” in his family, where he has a “lowly” B. A., and his wife an M. A.. Their only child, Seth, has a Ph.D. and is a university professor in England.

Hybridizing daylilies and writing have been Greg’s main hobbies. He inherited a love of gardening from his father, “but dad was far more diverse. I keep it simple and specialize. Each year I plant several hundred daylily seeds and once-in-a-while find a flower worth introducing.”

He describes himself as “always a poet since high school, but not particularly prolific”. He studied journalism in college and wrote articles and a column in the EMU school paper. He turned to songwriting in the eighties. Though satisfied that he authored some fine lyrics, he found no avenue for publication.

Since he retired, he’s joined some writing groups and found more time and energy to spend on writing. He still writes poetry  occasionally, but has turned more to prose. He feels that the quality of his prose has begun to catch up to that of his poetry.

Summer in the garden, winter at the computer and occasional travel, make him wonder how he ever found time for work.

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Author Interview: ‘Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing?’ by Kristen Hansen Brakeman

About the Book:

The humorous essays in the memoir, Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing?, are woven together by journal entries from two summers in the author’s life when absolutely everything happened.The essays address a diverse range of topics, from Brakeman hating being called “Ma’am” (and proposing a wonderful alternative), to accidentally teaching her seven year old daughter to swear; from discovering the perils of shopping in the loud and stinky Hollister store, to being scolded by a Very Important Singer. Each essay is introduced by a journal entry that provides a humorous or poignant (yet always very relatable) update on the lives of her husband, three daughters, and elderly, yet still guilt-inducing mom. The journal entries emphasize the cyclical nature of life, and trace the author’s bumpy transformation from chronic planner to one who discovers the joy of living in the moment before she runs out of moments.

This is not a mommy blogger whining about her kids. Instead it’s a slice-of-life of a typical American family, a chronicle of the ups and downs of modern life. Readers of Brakeman’s previously published essays have compared her writing to that of Nora Ephron. Though the humor is often wry in tone, ultimately people will find this collection to be life affirming.

When not writing, mothering, daughter-ing, or wife-ing, Brakeman works behind-the-scenes on variety television shows. Also, she is a nice person and eats her vegetables.

PS. She lies about the vegetables.

 

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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?

When I was a kid and my friends were reading the Little House series, I would read my mom’s Erma Bombeck books. I remember my sister telling me, “You know those are written for forty-year-old women with kids.” I didn’t care. I thought they were hysterical. When I got out of college I tried my hand at writing sitcom scripts and screenplays, but in between I always wrote personal essays. Once I had children, and hence a virtual treasure trove of material, I got back into writing essays again. I’m most comfortable in that form.

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

I don’t have a desk or an office so I trade off working at the dining room table or on my bed or my daughter’s tiny desk, none of which are great options for proper posture. Mornings are when I’m most productive. If I start by 10:00A and work until 2:30P when my daughters come home from school then I’ll consider it a productive day. It’s difficult for me to write when anyone else is home (partly because read my writing aloud) so I really have to focus and protect that alone time.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

My family has been my greatest inspiration. Strange or funny things always seem to happen to us and at times I feel like I’m living in a sitcom. Other times I’m inspired to write because I’m frustrated about something and need to blow off steam. It’s much cheaper than therapy and writing about an experience often allows me to find the humor or the positive in the situation.

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?

Since I mostly write personal essays I know generally where the story is going because they’re based on a personal experience. However, many times I’ll start writing and realize that my perspective can change through writing – like when I begin writing a funny story about my husband noticing an unattractive hair on my chin, but then it became more about how couples look out for one another as they grow old together.

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

Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing? is personal memoir told through essays. While most are funny in nature, some are more poignant, tackling subjects like the loss of my father and helping my husband cope with his cancer diagnosis. Much of my work revolves around being a Sandwich Generation parent, trying to satisfy the needs of my kids while also being dutiful daughter to my elderly mother. I’m drawn to writing essays because I love reading them. I’m a big fan of collections by David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, and Tina Fey to name a few.

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

Hah! I guess I’d be flattered to have Kristen Bell play the lead. She cracks me up, and she has a nice first name.

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

I wish I could read more, but between work and the kids and writing, it’s difficult to find the time. But when I can I read comic essays or whatever the “hot” book is at the moment so I can fool people into thinking I’m smart and worldly. Also, I try to read serious fiction from time to time to keep the cobwebs out of my brain.

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

Just finished A Man Called Ove and I loved it! It had the perfect blend of humor and heart. I didn’t want it to end – always a good sign.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I have fond memories of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I love magical realism. For the same reason I loved Like Water For Chocolate.

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

You have to want to write for the joy of doing it and not with the thought that you can earn a living. I love reader feedback – hearing people say that they could relate or that they got in trouble at work because they were laughing too loud reading my essays. That feedback has to be enough payment because there are very few writers who can actually make a living at writing. If you are debating about becoming a writer you probably shouldn’t. Because most writers do it because they feel compelled to – not writing it isn’t even an option.

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

You can find my website here: www.kristenbrakeman.com

Twitter: @KristenBrakeman

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kristenhansenbrakeman

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kristenbrakeman

About the Author:

Kristen Hansen Brakeman’s essays have been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Motherlode, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, and Scary Mommy, as well as The Sun, Working Mother, and LA Parent magazines.

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Author Interview: ‘Seventies Child’ by David P. Anderson

About the Book:

Seventies Child recalls a bygone era when children were free to explore and often ran wild. A collection of humorous and often heartfelt stories that examine universal themes that define growing up: sibling rivalry, fear, bullying, envy, peer pressure, friendship, and infatuation. This fictional memoir follows hero/anti-hero Samuel Ballard as he struggles to mature from five to fifteen in 1970s suburban Boston. Whether he’s battling insomnia and his brother to be the first to open his presents in “The Christmas Alarm Clock”, teaming with his best friend weirdo Jocko to dodge jail in “The Card Heist”, or reluctantly associating with the hated “Preps” to woo his dream girl in the “The First Girlfriend”, Samuel is hard to root against despite his proclivity towards mischief. Seventies Child is a time warp back to the days of disco starring a rock & roll bad boy.

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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 first got into writing when I wrote some poems for a girl that broke up with me when I was junior in high school. The poems didn’t change her mind but stoked my creative fire. I morphed into a prose writer a few years later when I attempted to write a memoir about my wild teen years (I’m lucky I survived them), this lead to screenwriting and creative writing classes.

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

I prefer to write in my windowless basement office because it’s so quiet and down there the distractions from my three daughters are muffled. If the weather is nice I’ll write outside under the shade of a maple tree.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Sometimes the ideas float into my mind mysteriously. I’ll just get an idea and think “that would make a great story.” Other times I sit and try to brainstorm ideas, but usually those forced ideas don’t get my juices flowing the way inspired ideas do.

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 use both methods when I write. I like to know the beginning and the general location of the ending, but the rest I make up as I go.

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

Dead Sprint is YA supernatural. Seventies Child is fictional memoir. I didn’t plan to write a YA novel it grew out of an assignment from a class prompt to write a short story based on a real experience. I took an incident from the 1980s and kept writing and writing about it until I had almost one hundred pages and my professor told me it had the potential to be novel, so I continued writing. For the other book, I always loved memoirs, especially humor based stories like David Sedaris writes or Jean Shepherd.

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

It would have to be a few young actors playing the hero because his age changes from 5-15. For the father character, Alec Baldwin would be great. For the mother, Kristin Wiig.

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

I’m an avid reader. I have been for over 30 years. My favorites are Stephen King, Harlan Coben, Frank McCourt, David Sedaris, Andre Dubis, Hemingway.

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

I’m reading two at the moment: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Superstud by Paul Feig.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Funny, honest, heartbreaking, inspiring. Also I love the history of Ireland and love anything set in the 1940s.

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

Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can.

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

Website –  www.davidpanderson.wordpress.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/DavidPAndersonFiction

Twitter – @DavidPanderson

About the Author:

David works as a video editor, and as a valet to his puggle Summer. He loves to write, laugh, and hang with his family. He has written 5 feature film screenplays including the Blockbuster- Gone With The Wind starring Clarke Gable.

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