Tag Archives: Magical Realism

Author Interview: ‘Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy’ by Mandi Oyster

About the Book:

Magic exists …

Monsters are real ……

The fate of one may save them all. 

In a world where magic is no more than sleight of hand, Dacia Wolf is an anomaly. Strange things happen in her presence, and the locals shy away from her. After setting her house on fire when she was six, even her parents fear her.

When Dacia leaves for college, she hopes her life is about to change for the better, but when her powers surface in class, she finds out she is part of a prophecy involving a demon hell-bent on taking over the world.

Dacia doesn’t believe in prophecies, but when she starts living her nightmares, she can’t help but wonder if she’s wrong. Can she learn to control her powers and save the world?

Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy… is the electrifying debut novel in the Dacia Wolf series. If you like magic and adventure mixed with a touch of romance, you’ll love Mandi Oyster’s spellbinding series.

 

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Purchase Links:

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Series Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

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

My name is Mandi Oyster. I live in Southwest Iowa with my husband and two kids. I’ve been writing for most of my life. I started Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy about 15 years ago. I’d read the first three books in the Harry Potter series, and afterward, this scene kept replaying in my head. It was a girl walking through the fog. Diffused light shown down, brightening just enough for her to tell she was on a sidewalk. Someone screamed, and she ran toward the sound. When she arrived, she could see reptilian eyes staring at her and a body lying on the ground. This scene begged me to write it, and once I did, the rest of the story came to me.

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

My favorite place to write is in the mountains, sitting by the campfire. A close second for me is lying in my hammock under the trees. Since I only get to the mountains a couple times a year at most, I write about anywhere: while my husband is driving us to and from work, while sitting on the couch with my kitties, at my breaks and my lunch at my day job, while I’m cooking supper, waiting to get my allergy shots,  anywhere I can get some words in works for me.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I have always been fascinated with magic and mythical creatures, so I started with those. As far as the rest of my ideas, I almost have to say they come from my characters. Half of the time, I don’t know what I’m going to write until they direct me. I know that sounds nuts, but when I have a plan, my characters change it all up and lead me down paths I never expected.

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?

Sometimes, I think I do, but my characters don’t let me plot. I tried it a couple of times and gave up. It’s just a waste of my time.

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

My books are YA Fantasy – Magical Realism. I love to read fantasy because the problems in the book aren’t real world problems. They’re an escape from those, but you can still learn from them. When I started writing, I had young kids, and I wanted to write something they could read as they got older, and I don’t know that I’m cut out to write Adult. Maybe someday.

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

That’s something I really don’t know. My characters are in their teens when the series starts, and I don’t know the actors that are that age. Just from her looks, I would say Francesca Capaldi as Dacia Wolf. 

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

I do quite a bit of reading. I’ve read 18 books so far this year, and most of them have been Indie Authors. I’m trying to support more of the people out there like me. Some of my favorite authors are: Becca Fitzpatrick (she writes the best body language ever), Cassandra Clare (I love how the fantasy world overlays the mundane world), Melissa Marr (her stories make me want to read them over and over again), Sarah J. Maas (I loved how she could make you root for an assassin), Kresley Cole (The Arcana Chronicles are amazing), M. H.  Woodscourt (she wrote my favorite book of 2020), Naomi Kelly (her mermaid tale left me wanting more), Angelina Steffort (something about her books just touches me), JK Rowling (she made the Harry Potter world come to life; it felt like she’d actually been there and witnessed everything), Janet Evanovich (her books are laugh out loud funny), Susan Dennard (when I start one of her books, I can’t put them down), Patricia Briggs (she writes the best werewolves), Anne Bishop (I just love her world-building), John Flanagan (his books started as bedtime stories for his kids, and they’re fantastic), and Johnathan Stroud (a snarky demon, what more could you want).

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

I started Enthrallment by Meg Evans on Friday, but I haven’t gotten too far into it. My 6th book is releasing at the end of the month, so I’ve been working on that and writing my 7th book. 

9: What is your favourite book and why?

This sounds a little narcissistic, but Dacia Wolf & the Prophecy is my favorite because it made my dream of being a published author come true. There are too many good books out there to choose just one by another author.

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

Sit down and write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good. Get the words down on paper. You can fix them later.

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

Website: www.MandiOyster.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MandiOysterAuthor

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mandioyster

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/19356322.Mandi_Oyster

 

About the Author:

Mandi Oyster dreams of living in a world where dragons and unicorns abound. For now, she lives in Southwest Iowa with her husband, two children, four cats, and two chinchillas. By day, she works as a Digital Prepress Supervisor for a local printshop. By night, she tries to make stories come to life.

 

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Author Interview: ‘Escape’ by Emma Eggleston

About the Book:

Laila is Richardsville High’s quirky girl. She’s just biding her time until graduation when she has an unusual encounter with Matty, the all-American boy next door. When Matty and Laila start to talk, he shares a secret with her. He’s a part of a clinical study for a medication called effugium and it can really transport him to other places and times. Will Laila trust Matty enough to try the effugium?

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Purchase Links:

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What people are saying:

“Emma Eggleston’s literary brilliance shines in new and unexpected ways with this debut masterpiece.” – Veronica Rose 

“This book makes you want to laugh, cry and hold somebody you love that tiny bit closer. A great book for teens and adults alike.” -Shannon Bavister

“This book definitely touches on mental health in a way that a majority of teens/young adults feel. I could feel myself relating very heavily to how Matty was feeling in the beginning of the novel. Absolutely loved it!” – Kaylyn Erskins

Author Interview:

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

I’m a new author currently studying journalism. I’ve liked to write since pretty much forever! I was writing stories and plays for my family to perform at seven and I never really stopped.

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

My favorite time to write would probably be mid-afternoon. I feel like that’s when my brain is working best. I like to write in a cozy place like on my bed or the couch with a blanket.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I used to get a lot of my ideas from other books, movies, and music, but with this project I really drew from personal experience. I think that’s a good thing because it made the story more authentic and original to the audience.

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 changes every time I write a little bit. I really like character-driven stories so during the early stages of writing I usually am more focused on developing their personalities and backstories and then the plot usually just comes with time.

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

Escape, is YA magical realism. I’m a young author (19) and so I feel like it’s very natural for me to write young adult books especially if I’m basing it off of my own emotional experiences or things I’ve seen. As far as magical realism goes, I was introduced to that genre my senior year of high school when reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I fell in love. 

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

I think that I would want the characters to be played by new actors. If I was lucky enough to see, Escape, become a motion picture, I would want it to be at least one of actors’ debut film because this is my debut novel and I would want to support someone just at the beginning of their career like people have supported me. 

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

I love to read. My favourite author is C.S. Lewis. 

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

The most recent book I read and really enjoyed was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

A Separate Peace by John Knowles is my favourite book. I remember everybody in my tenth grade English class hating it when we read it, but something about that book strikes a chord with me emotionally. I think the characters are very interesting and unique as well.

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

Don’t put it off. Start writing now and keep writing. Always try to improve and don’t get discouraged.

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

I’m on Instagram. @eggleston.emma is my username.

 

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Author Interview: ‘While Earth Still Speaks’ by Nancy Werking Poling

About the Book:

Elizabeth’s daughter, Angelica, has joined a cadre of eco-terrorists, and Mary (yes, the Holy One) has abruptly ended her “Operation: Earth Rescue” appearances at Elizabeth’s North Carolina farm. Now Elizabeth must discover her own calling, a passion worth risking her life for. It’s a journey into her own heart, and the adventure she embarks on is as unpredictable to her as it will be to the reader.

 

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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 a late bloomer. While I admire the energy and honesty of young writers, I’d like to think that added wisdom and insight come with age. Freed from the hectic demands of job and parenting, I have time to reflect on my own life choices/experiences and those of people I’ve come into contact with over the years (which includes characters I’ve encountered through reading).

Yet I’ve always been a storyteller—that is, ask me a question and I’ll answer with a story. And I’ve long recognized a good story when I’ve heard about someone’s experience. That happened with Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987). I met Anna and Daniel thirty years ago and thought, wow, that would make a great book. They agreed to an 11-day interview. However, the book didn’t come out until 2017. It took me that long to figure out how to tell a love story that didn’t end with “happily-ever-after.”

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

I treat writing as a job. That is, I try not to schedule daytime activities. “Try” is the operative word here. Even though I’m an introvert I recognize the need for friends. But I limit engagements.

I’m neither a morning nor night person. Each morning I have to read the news and do a Sudoku before I get to my computer. That seems to get my brain in gear.

I’m lucky to have my own space, a quiet office that looks out on our wooded lot, distracted by little more than a male cardinal or nuthatch.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I’m often inspired by weird stories that appear in the newspaper. In the 1990s I read a short piece in The Chicago Tribune that Virgin Mary visitations at a Conyers, GA farm, had ended. Until then busloads of people had been attending. I wondered, what would the woman who had channeled Mary do now? She had become irrelevant.

At about that time I was looking up a word in my dictionary and came upon a picture of Mary Surratt (executed as a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth). I started reading about her. As deplorable as her actions were, she was committed to a cause. I found that interesting.

In more recent years I became worried about the environment. How could I make my life and my voice count? I considered several options, one of them eco-terrorism. No, I’m afraid of dying. My imagination returned to the Mary visitations. What if Mary came to a contemporary woman with the goal of rescuing Earth from ecological destruction? What if the main character’s daughter became an eco-terrorist? How could Mary Surratt somehow get into the story?

Thus was While Earth Still Speaks inspired.

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?

A character forms first, and I’m pretty sure what her dilemma is. I write and write until she’s fully revealed herself. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s challenging. I end up throwing away a lot of the initial writing. At some point the story takes on a life of its own, often surprising me. I’ll read and ask myself, “Where did that come from?”

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

If my stories fall into any genre it’s probably women’s fiction—not to be confused with chick-lit.

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

I love this question. Meryl Streep as Elizabeth; Archie Panjabi (with added wrinkles and padding around the waist) as Mary.

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

Yes, I read. Being part of a book club, I’m introduced to books I probably wouldn’t read otherwise. For example, June’s book was Behind the Beautiful Forevers, certainly not a pleasant story but one that broadens my circle of empathy.

My favorite author is Anne Tyler. I love her eccentric characters. Reading her books makes me feel like I have permission to imagine quirky protagonists. Isabel Allende’s a favorite too, mainly because of all the authors I’ve heard speak, she seemed the most genuine.

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

In preparation for my next writing project, I’ve mainly been delving into non-fiction books about the South, particularly North Carolina at the close of the nineteenth century: the plight of North Carolina farmers, Jim Crow laws, and state politics. Last year I won the Alex Albright Non-fiction award for a piece about my husband’s grandfather: “Leander’s Lies.” I plan to develop that into a historical novel about Leander, a minister who deserted two wives and five children in North Carolina and married Wife No. 3 out in Missouri. I keep wondering, why did he leave?

9: What is your favorite book and why?

Giant, by Edna Ferber. I was very young when I saw Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in the movie. I immediately checked the book out of the library. I don’t remember the differences between the movie and the book, but something in it touched a young girl’s heart at a deep level. Now as the mother of adult children and friend to many mothers like me, I appreciate the way each generation must map the future for themselves. AND how as mothers we must accept our children’s decisions.

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

I’m not sure there’s such a thing as “thinking about” it. It’s a drive that grabs you and you can’t do otherwise. For some, like me, it takes longer for all this drive inside us to bubble up and erupt. But when it does…

It sounds like a cliché, you hear it so much, but you’ve got to sit down at the computer or with a pencil in hand and just start. It’ll likely be crap at first, and you’ll ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” You won’t be able to help yourself, though.

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

I have a website: www.nancypoling.com, I’m on Facebook as “Nancy Poling, author,” and on Twitter @nancypoling.

A few years ago a hacker sent out a message through my Facebook page that I had lost thirty pounds through a miraculous weight-loss program. The grammar mistakes were the giveaway—plus acquaintances knew I hadn’t lost thirty pounds. I changed my password and went to a private setting. Recently I again established the public page at “Nancy Poling, author.”

For several years I’ve been blogging. I began to realize that all of my posts were political, which would get me all riled up while writing them. So I took a break and started an email list. For the next few months I’ll share scenes of the protagonist’s childhood that I decided not to include in While Earth Still Speaks.

About the Author:

I am a late bloomer. As a child I didn’t create stories nor did I dream of someday becoming an author. Yet I’ve long had other qualities associated with writers: I seldom follow directions and I’ve always been a daydreamer. Ask me a question, and my response is likely to be a long narrative that goes practically back to “In the beginning…”

Though born in Indiana, I was reared in Orlando, Florida, when it was still a sleepy little southern town. Yet my husband and I have lived in the Chicago area for more than twenty years. So I’m either a Midwesterner who’s been influenced by my southern upbringing or a Southerner influenced by midwestern ways. In December of 2008, to be closer to our children and grandchildren, we returned to the South, to North Carolina. The move further confuses my identity conundrum.

Friends think of me as having a positive outlook, but I can quickly create a list of negatives—things I DON”T do. I don’t cook. I don’t have a pet, nor do I want one. I don’t serve on committees. I haven’t adjusted well to technology (not even to the telephone).

I DO like sunshine and feel nostalgic for the days when we assumed it was safe to bake on a beach towel. I like time to myself. I like books. I travel every chance I get, and if I anticipate staying home for a while, I take trips vicariously through the Travel section of the New York Times. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2005 and 2008 my husband was invited to teach a semester in Seoul, ROK. We both came to love the country and its people, who taught us much about hospitality.

Finally, I treasure time spent with my husband, Jim, our children, and grandchildren.

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Author Interview: ‘The Unity Game’ and ‘The Woman Behind the Waterfall’ by Leonora Meriel

 

“The Unity Game” is science fiction with philosophy

About the Book:

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?

A New York banker is descending into madness.

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

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Reviews for The Unity Game

“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer

“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

 

☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•

 

“The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is literary fiction and magical realism

About the Book:

Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

 

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Reviews for The Woman Behind the Waterfall

“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine

“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader

 

☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•.☆.•°*°•

 

Author Interview:

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

I’m the author of two novels: The Woman Behind the Waterfall, which is magical realism and The Unity Game, which is speculative science fiction. I am originally from London but I have spent most of my life living abroad, in New York, Barcelona, Kyiv and other cities. I studied literature, but spent several years working on Wall Street and then founding and running my own business before I decided to write full time. Now, writing is my top priority.

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

The time is always the morning – as early as possible, but the place can vary. If there is no one at home, then I write in my office or living room. However, if there are people wandering around, I’ll have to go out to a café. I’ll always choose a corner seat where I can observe the room, and one with loud enough music so I can’t hear other peoples’ conversations.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I have a very creative mind and I am almost always turning several ideas round in my imagination at one time. I suppose it comes from being utterly fascinated with everything – with the planet Earth that we live on, with the mysteries of everything we don’t yet know, with the universe around us. I love to discover and delve into new areas. There are so many extraordinary things happening in the world at any one time, and so many stories to be told that should be known about. As a writer, it’s amazing to have the power to combine ideas and stories and “what if” scenarios endlessly in books. So, I’d say the ideas come from a combination of my insatiable curiosity, my vast fascination with everything around us, and a creative mind that likes to play with pieces of information and arrange them in interesting patterns.

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 start off with many different ideas in my head, and I simply try writing about all of them. Some story threads fizzle out after a few thousand words and I understand that I didn’t have a very deep interest in the themes behind them. Others expand until a novel starts coming into shape. I often then integrate the smaller ideas as themes into the larger works. A novel has to have a question or a theme so burning, that it will carry you through up to five or even ten years of your life, and thousands of words.

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

When I started writing my novels I had no preconceptions of genre. I set out with passions and ideas and let the books emerge from these. It was only when reviews started referring to my work as “Magical Realism” that I accepted this for my first novel; with my second novel there were extraplanetary elements, so it clearly touched on Science Fiction. With the hindsight of two novels, I now understand that I write literary fiction and speculative fiction, however I would never like to set out with a fixed idea of what my novel will be. It’s a journey and an adventure to create and I would not limit this in any way.

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

David, the main character of The Unity Game, is an intense and driven New York investment banker, whose world starts slipping away when he has some alien experiences. Christian Bale would be perfect for this, as he self-destructs so brilliantly. There is also an ethereal, non-sexual, highly evolved alien that Cate Blanchett would suit perfectly. She is mesmerisingly beautiful so the lack of action wouldn’t be a problem. The third character is an after-life guide for my London barrister who dies in the first scene, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather show me around the after-life than Tom Hanks.

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

I read as much as I possibly can – probably a book a week on average. I love literary fiction the most, but I’ve started to read more science fiction as well, and I try to keep a balance of at least one non-fiction book per ten fictions. Authors I love start from literary classics such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, to current writers such as David Mitchell and Michael Cunningham and Eleanor Catton. I particularly love surrealism and great writing that heads in a strange direction, such as Haruki Murakami and Aimee Bender.

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

I’m coming to the end of American Rust by Philipp Meyer. It’s his debut and it’s absolutely phenomenal writing – huge and beautiful and devastating. I love reading debuts of talented writers because I know just how much they put into a debut – all of their dreams and ideas and passion. It’s also exciting to see the beginning of a writer’s career and imagine where they might go from there.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

That’s a really difficult question! I would have to choose 3 that I return to again and again. The first is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Its themes and language and beauty haunt me. The second is Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. When Michael Cunningham published his personal interpretation of this in The Hours, which also became a favourite. For my third, I would choose Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore as it constantly inspires me to be bold in my ideas, expression of motivations and language. It reminds me that in writing, everything is possible.

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

You must take yourself as seriously as possible if you want to write professionally. If you are a short story writer, then set aside an hour each day to write those short stories. If you dream about a novel, then set aside an hour for the novel – more if you can. Take a writing course; subscribe to a writing magazine; enter competitions. There are infinite ways to become a successful writer, but they all involve hours and hours at a desk – writing.

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

I am very accessible to readers. I am happy to have direct e-mails at leonora@leonorameriel.com or alternatively I am on Facebook – www.facebook.com/leonoramerielwriter and also Twitter – @leonora_meriel and my website is www.leonorameriel.com. I have a lot of readers contacting me and it is one of the best things about being a writer – after years of creating something in solitude, suddenly you can talk with people who have read and loved your work. It’s very special.

Direct links:

Website: www.leonorameriel.com

Blog: www.leonorameriel.com/blog

Facebook: www.facebook.com/leonoramerielwriter

Twitter: @leonora_meriel

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15852447.Leonora_Meriel

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Leonora-Meriel/e/B01LYU9KTO

 

About the Author:

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.

In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.

During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.

In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

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Author Interview: ‘Mr Either/Or’ by Aaron Poochigian

About the Book:

Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or is an ingenious debut, a verse novel melding American mythology, noir thriller, and classical epic into gritty rhythms, foreboding overtones, and groovy jams surrounding the reader in a surreal atmosphere. Imagine Byron’s Don Juan on a high-stakes romp through a Raymond Chandler novel. Think Hamlet in Manhattan with a license to kill.

Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His book of translations from Sappho, Stung With Love, was published in 2009. The Cosmic Purr, a book of original poetry, was published in 2012.

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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?

In high-school I was all about music—my band, musical theory, songwriting—but as soon as I took a poetry class in college, the rhythms and sounds of language re-focused my creative impulses. I had a sort of religious experience during my Freshman year. I was reading the opening lines of Vergil’s Aeneid in Latin—Arma virumqute cano. . . Though I didn’t know the language, I was so moved that the sky became brighter and everything became clear: I should learn the Classical Languages and spend the rest of my life writing poetry. That’s what I have done. No regrets. I guess I’m lucky in that I never had a phase when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life.

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

I write best in the morning at my favorite coffee shop. My mind is at its loosest and most open. The sentences arise on their own without any effort on my part. Writing full-time, I often have to push through afternoon doldrums with lots of caffeine and sugar. Sometimes evenings are productive for me as well but, ah, what would I do without those fertile mornings?

Yes, the words come easy sometimes but, of course, they often do not. Here’s some advice for writers—if you are committed, make yourself do it, even if you aren’t in the mood. Treat writing as an obligation, like any other job. You have to put your hours in. Breakthroughs can happen at any time, even during the dull, slow afternoon hours—don’t lose your chance to have one.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

A good question. Where do my ideas come from? Out of my curious mind and out of all that I have read, yes, those and out of daily experiences—the doppler sound of traffic passing in front of my house, the sheen the barista’s mop leaves on the floor at the coffee shop, out of the crazy junk in my backyard and backlot, out of the many, many places I have lived. You’ve got these lines from Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” running through my head:

A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

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?

When writing poetry, I usually let the poem crystallize around phrases and rhythms I have put in a word.doc. I just play around until something happens. “Mr. Either/Or,” however, is narrative, so I took the time to story-board the entire plot. I then created one word.doc for each plot event and allowed myself to go crazy creatively in each file, so long as I also narrated that one plot event. I then fitted all the files together into the whole narrative and polished the transitions. That way, I found I was able to get the story told while still giving myself freedom for creativity.

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

“Mr. Either/Or” brings together all of my great loves—epic poetry, genre fiction (noir and thriller), action films and Americana. I really don’t know what to call it—sometimes I call it a thriller, sometimes urban fantasy, sometimes an epic poem. I guess I see “Mr. Either/Or” as reviving the genre of the verse adventure-story (à la Homer’s Odyssey and Byron’s Don Juan). It alternates between free-rhymed iambic pentameter and the pounding alliterative verse of Beowulf, so that the poetic rhythms cue the action like the soundtrack to a film. Yes, the book has its own soundtrack built in.

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

For the hero, “you,” Zach Berzinski superspy, Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, would be perfect. I would love to see Lynn Chen from “Saving Face” playing the heroine Li-ling Levine. And, oh, for the old spy “handler,” Zero Zero One, please, please give me Jonathan Lithgow.

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

I do spend more time writing than reading nowadays. I’m trying to break myself of my habit of simply re-reading my favorite poets and writers—W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Raymond Chandler, P.G. Wodehouse. I find myself returning to their books as if they were so many Bibles to guide my career.

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

This week I am reading “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth and a poetry collection by Adrianne Rich. I would be reading the new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child (love that series) but I am cheap and thus waiting for it to come out in paperback.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

My favorite novel is Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.” It was another major model for “Mr. Either/Or.” It taught me that the needs of the plot need not restrict wild creativity. The writer should never be merely telling the story—he/she should do that, of course, and do it well but always at the same time be enjoying him/herself creatively. Pynchon’s novel is a mad whirlwind of a thing, a boundless conspiracy theory. I highly recommend it.

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

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to give anything more than boilerplate advice: craft, craft, craft. Work, work, work. Force yourself to know boring subjects like grammar backwards and forwards, so well, in fact, that you don’t have to think about them any longer. The time you spend early on studying grammar, for example, will pay off down the line, I promise, by making you a clearer and more efficient writer. Preachy, boring advice, I know, but it’s sincere as Hell.

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

I’m big on Facebook—I have 5,000 friends and quite a few people following me. Facebook has been very good at fostering literary communities at the local and national levels. It’s also a good place to learn about events such as readings and giveaways. I have even gotten in the habit of posting my most topical new poems on Facebook—my profile page has become its own literary venue.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aaron.poochigian

Website: www.mreitheror.com

About the Author:

Aaron Poochigian earned a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Minnesota in 2006 and an M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University in 2016. His book of translations from Sappho, Stung With Love, was published by Penguin Classics in 2009, and a translation of Apollonius’ Jason and the Argonauts was released October 2014. For this work in translation he was awarded a 2010-2011 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Cosmic Purr, (Able Muse Press), a book of original poetry was published in 2012, and many of the poems in it collectively won the New England Poetry Club’s Daniel Varoujan Prize. Poochigian’s work has appeared in such journals as The GuardianPoems Out Loud and POETRY.

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