Author Interview–Graham Downs

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

GRAHAM DOWNS!!

Graham Downs was born in Alberton, in Gauteng, South Africa. He now lives in Germiston with his wife. He is a computer programmer in Rivonia, who has always had a passion for writing.

The stories he writes are not constrained by genre, length, or time period. They are the stories that are burning to be told, and unleashed onto the world.

BB & B: You are a very busy gentleman—author, reviewer and librarian for Goodreads, blogger, and a computer programmer!  How do you maintain a healthy balance between all these great things that you do?  Any tips for other authors who find themselves maintaining a full time day-job while trying to pursue their creative passion?

cover jpegGraham: Well, it’s not easy, I’ll admit. My day job keeps me busy for long hours, but I always find time to read. Reading is incredibly important, and I find that Goodreads keeps me focused and disciplined in my reading.

Since discovering that site a year and a half ago, I don’t read anything (except what I have to read for work) that I don’t review anymore. I really enjoy thinking of all the things that I’m going to say when I review books, as I’m reading them.

As for my writing, well, I’ve always been the kind of person who really struggles with discipline. I always have at least three unfinished projects (writing projects, programming projects, household projects) on the go at any given point in time, most of which I’m sorry to admit will never see the light of day! The reading helps with my writing as well (you’ll hear a lot of authors say that); it keeps my imagination ticking, and when I’m struggling to write a difficult scene, or an ending for a story, I turn to a good book to clear my head and motivate me to press on.

I also have an amazingly supportive wife, who has promised to support and back me in anything that I want to achieve. Having that kind of love and support is invaluable!

BB & B: You are a fiction author.  Your collection of stories range from fantasy to thriller.  This is quite a range. Tell us what you love best about writing in these genres.

Graham: To be honest, I don’t really think about what genre I want to write in; I come up with the story, and the genre comes naturally. My first book was a short story called A Petition to Magic, and I don’t think I could’ve told that story any other way. Next came Heritage of Deceit, which is a modern day thriller set in an office environment. The idea for Stingers just hit me, and I knew exactly how the story would play out before my fingers hit the keyboard. As for what’s next, who knows?

BB & B: What inspires your stories and your characters?  What fuels your creativity?

Graham: I think the best way for me to be creative is to just “switch off” froma petition to magic technology and the world. Again, I think you’ll hear a lot of authors say that–it really works!

I’ve always had a really vivid imagination, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to tell stories. Growing up, I played a lot of table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, and I was always ended up being the “Game Master”, the one in charge of telling the story.

As to my inspiration, that’s a really difficult question to answer. Stories just come to me at the weirdest times. For A Petition to Magic, it was one particular scene where Solon was standing in his study preparing to cast his fateful spell. I dreamt about that one, one night, and it was really vivid.

Heritage of Deceit, not surprisingly, hit me one day at work when I was struggling with a particularly difficult programming problem and decided to step away from my computer for a few minutes. And as I’ve mentioned, Stingers came to me as more or less a complete story, all at once.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Graham: Well, it’s not intentional, but I think there’s a little bit of me in all of my protagonists. Solon the Wizard is a mirror of my fears of trying new things, or “getting back on the horse” when I’ve made a horrible mistake (although thankfully, none of my mistakes have ever killed anyone!).

James Clarke is reminiscent of my Primary School days, when I was a bullied kid –although the bullying never escalated to the point that it did in Stingers.

cover jpegI guess that Lloyd from Heritage of Deceit is a lot like one or two people I’ve met in my career, whereas I fancy myself as being a bit like Robert.

There’s probably a little bit of us in all of our characters, for better or worse, and there’s a certain amount of “confession” that goes on in all our stories. Writing is a writer’s special kind of therapy, of getting things off his chest.

BB & B: You recently collaborated in a great children’s charity project—I am not Frazzle.  What inspired you to be so giving of your time? Would you do it again?

Graham: I just love to write. I saw a blog post by Darren Worrow (our editor on the project), looking for people to participate. His brief was very broad: A story, geared at adults, with at least one main character who’s a child. As I’ve already mentioned, when I read that brief, Stingers just came to me. I don’t know from whence it came, or why, but it just did. Before responding to Darren (and certainly before I knew whether he still had space, or whether I’d be accepted), I bashed out the first scene of the story, popped it off to him, and he loved it!

Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was a huge honour to be part of such a big project, and to work with all the amazing authors. Words cannot describe how I felt when Darren told us all that the project was going on sale. Even though I’m not making any money off of it, and I’d never heard of the charity before I embarked on the project, I have humbled and grateful to be supporting that worthy cause, in my own small way.

BB & B: Like many authors, you must have a ton of ideas for stories.  How do you decide which of your stories to bring to life and devote to paper?

Graham: I know what you’re thinking: you’re probably thinking that, as a computer programmer, I must have this carefully organised folder of story ideas, maybe I’ve even written a computer program to help me keep track of them all, and that I carefully choose what my next story will be from that list, based on market trends, genre, and so forth.

None of that is true, though. Most of my ideas aren’t even stored anywhere outside of my own head. The ones that get written are the ones that choose to be written when I sit down at my keyboard, stare at a blank screen, and start typing. You see, I don’t decide; the story does!

BB & B: Do you have any current projects and what can fans expect from you in the near future?

Graham: You know, every time someone asks me what I’m working on currently, they get a different answer!

I’m busy with a really short horror story, which I’m hoping is going to be accepted into a well known Independent Author Magazine. But I might not finish that, we’ll see how it goes. Then I have two ideas which might actually turn into novella length books, but I don’t think I’ll be any more specific than that, because by the time someone interviews me again, I may have forgotten all about them and be working on something completely different!

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Graham: Ooh, an open-ended question; those are difficult!

Readers, keep reading. If you’d include my stories in your reading, even better! Even better than that, though, is if you’d leave a review of each when you’re done. Reader reviews are independent authors’ bread and butter, and not just because we don’t have access to the insane marketing resources that big businesses do: we all tend to be an insecure bunch, and we’re never truly sure if anybody out there is actually reading what we’ve put out into the world. So, good or bad, please leave your thoughts on our stories. Every word of encouragement or criticism means that somebody has read our work and taken the time to say what they thought. You, dear reader, are the reason we keep writing!

Writers, keep writing! It’s a labour of love, and most of us will never get rich off it, nor even ever make enough to quit our day jobs. But it’s as necessary to us as breathing.

I find that I’m a lot like Graham in that my stories, my characters tend to take over and they dictate what’s next.  Thank you Graham for your time and we look forward to your next work!

To get to know more about and Graham and his work, check out these great links:

You can also follow Graham by going to:

Author Interview–Holly M. Kothe

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

HOLLY M. KOTHE!

Snapshot_20130601Holly M. Kothe is a freelance short story writer and novelist from Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and works as an editor for The Oddville Press.

~ ~

BB & B: What inspired you to create Sweet Violent Femmes?

Holly: The whole thing came together over time. I never planned to put short stories into a collection, but the more I wrote, the more I noticed an ongoing theme of dark, twisted payback with a feminine slant. The first story, “The Glass Room,” was the only one exclusively written for the Sweet Violent Femmes collection, and it also happens to be my favorite.

BB & B: All the stories in this collection has a reason for why the heroine of the story resorts to what she does, but which of the short stories in Sweet Violent Femmes affects you the most?  Why?

Holly: Probably “Tethered.” It is the only story with a paranormal element, and it deals with a lot of real life issues that affect me way more than I’d care to admit. There’s true love gone sour, infidelity, death, the afterlife—oh, and the selfish nature of womanizing men (creative gold for me).

 BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

 Holly: To a large extent, I think. The percentage of real-life vs. art is a constantly changing one. I couldn’t tell you how much is true, and how much is imagination. I use myself as a model for a lot of my characters, then I’ll throw in quirks that are the complete opposite of me…working as a prostitute in Paris, for example.

BB & B: What research did you have to perform for Sweet Violent Femmes? SVF COVER PHOTOWas there any research which really opened your eyes or gave you a new perspective or respect for a topic or profession?

 Holly: It was great fun to research Paris, its modern day brothels, and the French language because I’m so obsessed with these topics. Also, researching the autopsy process in gross detail completely creeped me out. I figure, if I’m really freaking myself out with these thoughts, then I better write them down, fast!

BB &B: You are getting great reviews on Sweet Violent Femmes.  Congratulations! Your writing style is described as beautiful, biting, highly descriptive, and like looking at a painting. Can you take us through a glimpse of your thoughts as you write and craft your words to tell your stories?

Holly: I try to be highly descriptive and write the scene I see in my head without too much fluff. When I’m editing, I cut the bullshit that came out the first time around. I try to think of Hemingway, and his no-nonsense prose. I model my writing after that style, and sometimes I’m pompous enough to tell people that, ha.

BB & B: What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Holly: More short fiction! It’s a format I will always have a soft spot for. Also, a YA novel. As a teen, reading became one of the most important things to me. I want to write for teens who have that passion like I did. It will be real-life drama, dark and humorous. I think dark fiction and comedy pair well together.

 BB & B: Any tips you’d like to provide to new writers or closing words you’d like to share?

Holly: Don’t listen to people TOO much. By that I mean, yes, learn everything you can, but be careful to filter advice from writers or readers so that you find what works for your own personal style. I’ve heard it a million times, but it’s a true cliché: the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to read and write.

Great words of advice. Thank you Holly for spending time with Books, Blogs, and Bits. Best wishes to you and we can’t wait to see more of your future work.

If you’d like to see more of Holly’s work, be sure to check out these links:

A Little Literary, (a lotta Coffee)

Facebook

Twitter

Purchase Sweet Violent Femmes Here:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Author Interview–Fleur Gaskin

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present,

the fabulous  FLEUR GASKIN!

05

BB & B:  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Fleur:  I’m from New Zealand but I haven’t lived there for the past twelve years. I’ve been living in Asia mainly– with a year in Europe and six months in New York.

I traveled a lot because I was an international model. These days I live in Shanghai with fiancé and my two cats. I tutor English for an income but most of my time is spent working on my novels. I do yoga for exercise and I really miss living near the ocean.

BB & B:  What inspired you to write your book?

Fleur:  When I first began to write Arabelle’s Shadows I wanted to expose the world of modeling for what it really is, not how it’s portrayed in the media. Modeling is not as glamorous as it may appear and when I was modeling I often felt that the fashion industry was taking advantage of young girls who didn’t know how to stand up for themselves.

Then I started writing the novel and it formed into something else. Modeling in Arabelle’s Shadows is now mainly just the setting. The story is more about depression and Arabelle struggling to learn how to love herself. In the end I was inspired to try and show that no matter how bad things are, if you just keep going, keep trying, eventually things will get better.

BB & B:  What was the hardest thing about writing this book?  Can you explain why?

Fleur:  The hardest thing about writing Arabelle’s Shadows was talking about the depression. If you have been depressed before and have dealt with your issues then the best way to stay healthy is to not dwell on your past any more. It is a terrible idea to replay in your mind your worst thoughts over and over again. Bringing up the memories of my darkest moments and then attempting to turn them into words was really tough. I had to work hard to make sure my depression did not return. But, as with many tasks that are extremely difficult, in the end it was all worthwhile. Writing Arabelle’s Shadows was very therapeutic and now that it’s done I feel like I have left my past behind and am now a whole new person. ArabelleShadows

BB & B:  If there is one lesson, one message, or any one thing you can share with your readers, what would that be?

Fleur:  Love yourself. Accept yourself the way that you are. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it or forget about it. It’s very difficult to find love and happiness if you don’t already love yourself. That’s what Arabelle needed to learn. That happiness doesn’t come from wealth, beauty or dress size. That another person cannot solve all your problems for you. Happiness comes from within.

BB & B:  What do you love best about being an author?

Fleur:  My new favorite thing about being an author is being quoted. Often when people write reviews they quote something from the book and I’m always amazed at the sentences they find. I read the quote, think that it’s really quite lovely and then I realize I wrote it! It’s all very surreal.

BB & B:  What can fans expect from you in the future?

Fleur:  I am working on a novel at the moment about being good. I’m hoping it will be more lighthearted than Arabelle’s Shadows. I have no idea just yet which genre it will fall into. I do know that it won’t be based on my life which will make it a lot easier to write!

BB & B:  Do you have any tips for new writers?

Fleur:  Your first draft probably won’t be very good and that’s okay. Just get something down on paper and then develop your storytelling skills from there. When I wrote Arabelle’s Shadows I had to rewrite it over and over again. And every time I thought it was done, someone would come up with another thing that needed changing. I learned not to take criticism as an insult to my writing skills, but rather as helpful guide to improving my book. Because I kept going and going even when things were all going wrong I ended up with a piece of writing I am really proud of.

If you’d like to find out more about Arabelle’s Shadows, here’s a little summary to whet your appetite:

ArabelleShadowsEverything in Arabelle’s life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she’s even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears. Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her. Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.

You can purchase Arabelle’s Shadows at the following retailer:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Itunes

Be sure to follow Fleur, by visiting her at:

http://www.fightingtheshadows.com

http://www.facebook.com/ArabellesShadows

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17282501-arabelle-s-shadows

 

I was interviewed!

firework displayI am really excited!  I was interviewed by the awesome Jessica Kong!

You might remember Jessica as one of our featured authors here on Books, Blogs, and Bits!  If you have not yet visited her site, go check it out.  You can find Jessica at www.seaanan.com

While you’re there, take a peek at yours truly’s interview 🙂

http://seaanan.com/2013/02/18/welcome-to-limelight-mignon-v-supnet/

Author Interview–Tracy Heath

Tracy Heath PicBooks, Blogs, and Bits proudly presents:

Bestselling Author, Country Humorist Writer

Tracy Heath

If you love to laugh, you’ll love this author!

Tracy’s Bio:   Bestselling author Tracy Heath is a country humorist writer, having grown up in the Eastern Oregon desert among dogs, cows, and tumbleweeds.  She has now published the first two books of her Country Misadventures series and is known for her comical tales of country incidents and family mishaps.  Tracy currently resides in the medium-sized city of Kennewick, Washington, with her husband.  Living with them are their rambunctious son and scruffy hunting dog.

BB&B:  What inspires you to create a story? 

Tracy:  My family does on so many different levels. My parents exposed me to quality literature as a child, and I’ve always wanted to write. Now as I have a family of my own, I want to share my childhood stories with my husband and son.  Also, I get so much pleasure myself when I’m writing. Even though it can make me feel completely frazzled, I love the process.

BB&B:  How do you decide on the setting of your story?

Tracy:  Selecting a setting was easy for me since both of my current books are based off of my own childhood in Eastern Oregon. The deep-hued sunsets, the ever-stretching wasteland, the rolling tumbleweeds are what I know best.

BB&B:  To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Tracy:  Most of my characters are based off of real people—my parents, my brothers, and myself. But as I wrote each story, even people so closely related to me took on personalities vastly different than their real-life characteristics. And then there are people such as Cynthia and Tom in the story A Redneck Romance that are composites of various individuals I knew way back in the day.

BB&B:  Can you tell us about one of your characters and what it is A Redneck Romance Coverabout that character that you like best?  Which book has this character?

Tracy:  Cynthia Clark is a black-haired, black-eyed young woman who gets caught in the crossfire between her blustery, protective pa and the backwoods neighbors next door. She’s at a turning-point of discovering that she can think for herself, and she has to decide whether to follow her own desires or to respect her pa’s commands. This country love story unfolds in the book A Redneck Romance.

 BB&B:  What do you love best about being an author?

Tracy:  There’s something so fulfilling about slaving over a document for countless hours, putting every lick of mental energy into a book, and then seeing that treasured piece of work get into the hands of strangers who never knew you even existed until they stumbled across a comical little book of country tales. And it’s comments like “I laughed until I cried” that keep me going.

BB&B:  What can fans expect from you in the future?

Tracy:  I will be adding a third book to the Country Misadventures series. The first two books are collections of short stories as will be the third. From there I plan on branching out into longer works of fiction still in the same humorous country genre. For me, it’s not worth writing unless there’s humor.

BB&B:  Do you have any tips for new writers?

Tracy:  Just start writing. That’s what I did—just for the fun of it. And now, in less than a year, I have two books published. With the opportunity of self-publishing available these days, there is no reason to not write if you so desire!

Get linked up with other writers. I’m involved in a community that has greatly increased my confidence and knowledge of how to get it done. Feel free to contact me for help on getting started!

BB&B:  Where can fans purchase your books?

Tracy:  Both titles are available at Amazon.com

BB&B:  Where can fans find you?

Tracy Heath Website

Tracy’s Facebook Page

Follow Tracy on Twitter

Author Interview–Jessica Kong

 Jessica KongBooks, Blogs, & Bits proudly presents:

JESSICA KONG

Author of Fiction, Fantasy Novels

 

Jessica’s Bio:  Jessica A. Kong lives in Somerset, New Jersey with her loving husband of twenty-one years and teenage triplets. She is an avid reader of fantasy, futuristic, and paranormals. When she is not reading she enjoys arts and craft, puzzles, crocheting, and playing video games.

 BB&B:  What inspires you to create a story?

Jessica:  I get my ideas from movies, books, and current events that blend at night and give me crazy dreams.  I keep notes on the more interesting dreams.

BB&B:  How do you decide on the setting of your story? 

Jessica:  I chose the setting for the first book I wrote.  All the books that came afterwards were decided by the characters and where their journeys take them.

BB&B:  To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Jessica:  Without mentioning any names, my characters do share traits with people in my life, and some traits I wish to find in people.

BB&B:   Can you tell us about one of your characters and what it is about that character that you like best? 

Jessica:  John McCall.  He is a tough as nails warrior with a kind heart.  He tries to hide it, but at times, it shows either in his eyes or in his actions. 

BB&B:  Which book has this character? 

Jessica:  I introduce John in A Lost Kitten.  A Lost Kitten

BB&B:  What do you love best about being an author?

Jessica:  What I love best is writing about the family I love, the Ruling Clan, and hearing that my readers are sharing my love.

BB&B:  What can fans expect from you in the future? 

Jessica:  I am currently editing the next installment in the Sea-anan Saga and the first installment to the Oceanan Saga.

BB&B:  Do you have any tips for new writers?

Jessica:  First of all, you can’t please everyone.  You will grow bald if you try.  The best thing to do is to write the story from your heart, polish it the best you can, and then let it go.  Some will like it and some will not.  It is just a fact of life you cannot change.  Secondly, whether you are an indie author or published with a publishing house, marketing your book is time consuming and tedious at times, but a necessity.  Always be kind and courteous to your followers.  And enjoy the journey.

Check out and learn more about the world of Jessica’s creation at:

Follow Jessica and become an even bigger fan by going to these sites:

Find Jessica’s Books at these sites:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon.com

 

Author Interview–Nancy Brooks

NancyBooks, Blogs, and Bits proudly presents:

 

NANCY BROOKS

Author of fantasy, fiction, action/adventure novels.

Books by Nancy Brooks:

The Isle of Cipit

The Legendseeker

Bestia

In a Drink

The Caretaker

BB&B:  Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Nancy:  I was born and raised in San Francisco to immigrant parents; my father was French-Canadian with ancestry in the British Isles, and my mother is from El Salvador, of Lebanese descent. I grew up within the Salvadoran culture, where I fell in love with stories from the ‘old country’, stories of dwarves, goblins, devils and witches. I wanted to share the Salvadoran tales I had heard, but as I began writing my novels I realized there were so many other cultures out there with similar stories and legends. My quest is to bring these legends back into the mainstream by fusing them with modern-day action-adventure.

B&B:  What inspires you to create a story?
Nancy:  A face. A moment. A song. Anything and everything can spark a storyline. I’ve even written a short story based upon a scent. When I was younger I’d ask my friends to give me a list of words, and I would write a story for them. Now I ask for a culture or a legend.

BB&B:  How do you decide on the setting of your story?
Nancy:  I travel a lot, especially to historical sites with my children. The Caretaker was inspired during a trip into Nevada. Seeing the desert and the abandoned mines awakened my imagination, and I could picture my main character living out his existence on a remote piece of land. I wrote The Legendseeker after a trip into Utah. I use San Francisco in my stories as well. I like writing about remote islands and rainforests , because you never know what’s been lying dormant.

BB&B:  To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Nancy:  It may sound silly, but I write my characters the way they want to be written. I can plan how I want their personalities to be, but it never turns out that way. I also try to write them the way I’d love to be: adventurous, brave, and loving. I have written characters based on people I know. I like adding the little ‘inside joke’ now and then, like a friend’s favorite expression.

BB&B:  Can you tell us about one of your characters and what it is about that character that you like best?  Which book has this character?
Nancy:  William Hohnney. LOL I love Bill. He first appears in The Legendseeker as part of a monster-hunting group called Walquer Enterprises. Bill’s life is all about fun and excitement, the thrill of the hunt, finding elusive creatures like Bigfoot, and drinking his five-country limit on beer (Corona, Asahi, Heinekin, etc) He seemingly has no cares in the world, except he’s secretly building a nest egg for his toddler son. I like that he’s persistent yet charming, and though things start to unravel for him, he’s quick to reconsider his situation and ends up doing the right thing. You can count on Bill in the face of danger, and he’ll never leave your side as long as you need him.

BB&B:  What do you love best about being an author?
Nancy:  I love having my own world. I love the fact that I can leave all of my stress and troubles behind, and just slip through the buttressed roots of a kapok tree in the Amazon. I can hunt for creatures among the hoodoos in Utah, or fight Coyote along the side of a road in the middle of Nevada. I love hearing the voices as my characters engage in dialogue, and I like the way one little idea can turn into a whole journey.

I especially love it when readers talk about my characters as if they were real. I LOVE that.

BB&B:  What can fans expect from you in the future?
Nancy:  They can expect to see more legends coming to life, more cultures being mentioned, more countries being explored. I’m currently editing a story that starts off in the Yucatan Peninsula and ends up on an island in the Philippines.

BB&B:  Do you have any tips for new writers?
Nancy:  Write. Just write.

If you are interested in finding out more about Nancy Brooks and her world, follow these links:

http://Legendseeker.com

https://twitter.com/Sonsofmil

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Legendseekercom