A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Anthony Miller, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. You are very welcome, John. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Pam – and thanks for having me.

photoI live in the U.S., in southern New Jersey, and my writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. My fifth book, Honour the Dead, a historical murder mystery set in Italy in the 1920’s, has just been published.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I like to cross genres, using thrillers, historical fiction, and mysteries, primarily. I think having a multi-genre plot is much more interesting, with unlimited possibilities for subplots and secondary characters that are often as exciting as the protagonist.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I am an avid reader – although I read more non-fiction than fiction, primarily to research the books I’m writing. When I do read fiction, I tend to stay in the three genres I typically write in, although if I find an interesting author, or if someone is recommended to me, I may stray a bit.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m traditionally published, represented by Parkeast Literary in the U.S.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Three writers have had a large influence on me. James A. Michener taught me that the location of a novel is also a character, especially if richly described. Ken Follett taught me how to move a story along, having the action twist or turn every five or six pages, and Ernest Hemingway, especially his early writings, taught me technique – that in many cases, less is really more.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Although I’m from the U.S., I’m fascinated by French and British history, which is reflected in my main characters.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

The most difficult part of the process for me is the initial draft. I’m what you might describe as a re-writer, versus a writer, and usually go through at least five or six revisions before sending a manuscript to my agent.

My first draft is such a challenge because I have no discipline whatsoever, and this first effort is really a race to get the plot on paper. I leave myself notes for the next revision – like describe or dialogue or research – because I don’t want to be slowed down while capturing my initial thoughts. (I’ve always admired writers who are very disciplined and start with an outline that they never stray from).

My first draft is 125–150 pages for a novel that will be 350-400 pages when completed, and takes 2 – 4 weeks. I then continually revise it, using index cards to jot down notes about characters or places or references for research.

I get through these early stages by simply plodding ahead, regardless of how bad I might think the writing is. I have confidence in my ability as a re-writer so if I churn out garbage initially, I hope I can eventually turn it into gold.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

I was told by a writing instructor to work every day – even if it’s only thinking about what you may write the next day – and even if you can only manage 15 or 20 minutes.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I’m an early riser, usually up by 5 a.m. (prompted by my cat, Bobcat). Mornings are my most productive time.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

If I wasn’t an author, I would be a financial analyst or investment manager. I am fascinated by the global stock markets and I like to research the various companies and industries around the world.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

Maybe Caroline Katz or Joanne Froggatt for the female and Cillian Murphy for the male.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

I’ve always admired Winston Churchill, especially for his ability to rally the world during the darkest days of WWII. I would like to be him for a day just to see how he stayed so optimistic when the entire world was collapsing.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

I would definitely choose late-Victorian through the early part of the twentieth century. I’m drawn to the British Empire, upon which the sun never set, the twilight of Victorian England, the dawn of a new century, the utter destruction of WWI, and the roaring ‘20’s.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

Centennial – James A. Michener; A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway; Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier; The Orient Express – Agatha Christie; Eye of the Needle – Ken Follett

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

honour the deadMy fifth novel, Honour the Dead, has just been issued. It’s a historical murder mystery about six English survivors of WWI who converge on Lake Como, Italy in 1921, four men and two women = one corpse and one killer.

Penelope Jones, a wealthy socialite, is admitted to Lakeside Sanitarium, convinced someone is trying to kill her. Her husband, Alexander Cavendish, a WWI hero, is having an affair with her closest friend and owes gambling debts to Billy Flynn, a London gangster. Her father, Wellington Jones, is fighting the collapse of his business empire, and knows about Cavendish’s affair and gambling debts. Wellington needs money desperately and knows Penelope will inherit Cavendish’s estate, should anything happen to him. Dr. Joseph Barnett, Penelope’s doctor, struggles to control images of a war he can’t forget. He despises Cavendish, having served with him in the war. Barnett doesn’t see a war hero, but a despicable murderer who forced young men to die. Rose Barnett, the doctor’s wife, is a famous poet with a sordid secret. Rose was a nurse in France during the war, where she committed five mercy killings on horrifically wounded soldiers. Cavendish, the only witness, is blackmailing her. Who is the corpse and who is the killer?

LINKS TO PURCHASE:  UK: Amazon UK          US:  Amazon US

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

John Anthony Miller on Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Website

 

 

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A Conversation with Author Dianne Freeman

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dianne Freeman, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Dianne Freeman headshotA special welcome to you, Dianne. I love to chat with historical fiction authors, particularly those who write in the same time period as I do. Please tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a life-long book lover who retired from the world of corporate finance to pursue my passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, I realized my true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. I also realized I didn’t like winter very much so now my husband and I pursue the endless summer by splitting our time between Michigan and Arizona.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

When I was about eight years old, my family moved to a house about 3 blocks from the public library and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. I don’t get to read quite as much now as I used to but while historical mystery is my favorite genre, I enjoy all varieties of historical fiction and most types of mystery.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m traditionally published with Kensington Books.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical mystery with a bit of humor. I started with this genre because it’s what I love to read. I continued because I enjoy digging into the late Victorian era, plotting a crime, then creating a story around it. I love leaving clues then leading readers in the wrong direction with a scattering of red-herrings.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I like to think if Janet Evanovich and Edith Wharton had ever been able to collaborate, they might have come up with a main character like my Frances Wynn. (I also like to think there are no calories in food eaten while standing so what do I know?) But I’ve definitely been influenced by Evanovich’s humor and the elite world of Wharton’s books.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

 I’d imagine it must have, but not in anyway I could define.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I write in drafts, so every time I have to return to page one and start the next draft I have a moment of dread that I won’t be able to fix whatever is wrong. I’ve found if I print the draft and read it through first, maybe jotting a few (hundred) notes, I realize it’s not that bad and I can tackle whatever problems it presents.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Late afternoon is my favorite time, but I like to take a walk to think about what I need to write before I sit down and actually do it, so sometimes weather can interfere with my writing schedule.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I have a feeling this is a common answer, but I love the whole process of writing—the research, plotting, spinning a tale—it’s like traveling to another world. Marketing and promoting aren’t all bad, they can actually be fun, but they really take up a lot of time.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I do enjoy social media, but as mentioned above, it can be so time consuming. My favorite way to distract myself would be Facebook.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’m retired so I’d go back to doing whatever I want, which would include plenty of reading, gardening, and maybe I’d even learn how to cook.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

Pride and Prejudice – again. At least I already know how it ends in case I don’t get to finish it.

A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder 600px widePlease tell us what you are working on and your latest published work.  

I’m currently working on book three of The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries. Book one, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder released in June, 2018.

The story takes place in London in 1899. Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is a widow dealing with a high society burglar, a marriage-mad sister, and a murder. When the London season turns deadly, she fears one of her sister’s suitors may be the killer. Frances must rally her wits and a circle of gossiping friends and enemies to unmask the culprit before she becomes his next victim.

 

Buy Link – Amazon US

Buy Link – Amazon UK

If you would like to know more about Dianne and her work, please check out her links below: 

Website:  https://difreeman.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Difreeman001

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/diannefreemanwrites/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17347322.Dianne_Freeman

 

 

 

A Conversation with Author Caroline E Farrell @carolineauthor

Today in the Library we have the multi-talented ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Caroline E Farrell, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author and film maker.

You are very welcome, Caroline, please introduce yourself:

37186650_10214601731649976_273695614116560896_nI’m a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland. My current novel, Lady Beth, won the Carousel Aware Prize for Best Novel, 2017. I have also written a vampire story, Arkyne, Story of A Vampire, and have recently written and directed a short film, Framed, which is currently on the film festival circuit. Several of my feature scripts have won awards, and I have written and co-produced two other short films, Adam (2013) and the multi-award winning In Ribbons (2015). Continue reading “A Conversation with Author Caroline E Farrell @carolineauthor”

In the Library with Irish Author Susie Murphy @susiemwrites

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Susie Murphy, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as a debut author.

Susie MurphyYou are very welcome, Susie, particularly as you are a fellow Irish historical fiction author. Please introduce yourself: 

I have been writing stories since I was eleven years old so publishing my first novel this week is a dream come true for me! My book, A Class Apart, is the first volume in my six-part series A Matter of Class.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I have a vivid memory of me at age seven climbing a stairs and going through big double doors into a library in Waterford. The awe that I felt in that moment was when my love of books began. I was a voracious reader in those early days (a lot of Enid Blyton and Ann M. Martin), and my mother says my most common phrase at the time was ‘I finished the book’. That carried on through my teens (I read The Lord of the Rings twice in a row in the few months running up to my Junior Cert state exams…), but college was my period of drought – I read a grand total of two books in three years. Since then, however, I am never without a book. My Kindle goes everywhere with me in my bag and I always have an audiobook in the car.

While historical fiction is my favourite genre, I do enjoy a lot of fantasy and young adult books too. I’m open to reading anything but love stories are my hook. So if the book has even a small romantic storyline you’ll have me invested in it, no matter what genre it is.

 Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am a self-published author. I did make attempts to go down the traditional publishing route and received my fair share of rejections, all of which I value because I used the feedback to make my book better. Over time, self-publishing became the more appealing option to me as I love the idea of having full control over my book. I get the final say on the edit and cover design and promotion, and that’s very appealing to me.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical fiction set in the 1800s. I find the past a truly captivating place to escape to. I especially love  the 19th century because it’s near enough to modern times to be somewhat relatable and yet is still so different to the way we live now. The customs of the time fascinate me – I adore the idea of writing a letter with a quill, stepping into a horse-drawn carriage to go to a ball, marking the name of a dashing gentleman on a dance card. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions about the hardships of the era! Of course there were many inequalities and poor conditions, particularly for the lower classes. But I do love to daydream…

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series. I just discovered her books in the last three years and can only wonder how I ever survived before that. Remember how I said I’m hooked by love stories? Well, I believe Outlander is the greatest love story out there. I really admire Gabaldon for the way she tells such a gripping tale, and evokes the time period with amazing detail, and makes a reader feel like they will burst if they don’t read on. I have learned so much from her about characterisation and structure and historical settings. Reading her books made me realise that I had been writing my own series in a little bubble. Outlander showed me the scale of historical fiction and gave me the encouragement to expand my series beyond the limited boundaries I had originally set for it. And Gabaldon’s writing style is exactly the kind I like – while I can’t emulate it, I can strive to make my own better because of it.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I’m from Ireland and my book is set in Ireland, so yes! The 19th century was a turbulent time in Irish history and I felt it served as the perfect backdrop to the story I wanted to write. They say ‘write what you know’ – I obviously haven’t lived in the 1800s, but I studied Irish history in school, and I learned how to speak Irish, and I know what it feels like to walk around my grandparents’ old Irish cottage and smell a peat fire, and those kinds of things were definitely helpful in crafting my story.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

Writing without editing. When I’m drafting brand new sections, I itch to read back as I go along to make sure what I’ve written is making sense and properly punctuated. But that’s the best way to blunder to a halt and never make any forward progress. I have to just put the head down and remind myself that I can edit later. Oh, but what did I say three paragraphs ago— edit later. Oh, but just one quick look— edit LATER.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I gain a certain satisfaction from writing first thing in the morning and achieving some small goal while still in my pyjamas! Then the day is off to a good start. However, I have also had some special writing sessions burning the midnight oil, when only myself and my characters are awake.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

The best thing is having a reader react positively to what I’ve written, whether it’s a blog post, a short story or a novel. It makes me so happy to know I’ve accomplished something that has resonated with someone else.

The worst thing is the crippling self-doubt. Who am I to think I can write anything? But getting the type of reaction above is the boost that encourages me to keep going.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I recognise social media as an essential aspect of being an author in this day and age, but I don’t view it as a chore. I think it’s a privilege to get so close to other authors and readers in what was once quite an isolated occupation. I do wish I was better at it though! I agonise over every post and tweet before I hit send. Of all the forums, I enjoy Twitter the most as a place to discover interesting links, read entertaining tweets, and interact with lovely people!

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

As my writing career is only just taking off, I still work by day as a piano teacher. One of the nicest parts of my job is walking down the school corridors and hearing music coming from every room (even if there’s still some scope for improvement…!).

For years I have devoted all my free time to developing my writing, but if I wasn’t doing that I think I’d like to join a choir for fun. I’m no opera singer but I can hold a tune and love to sing harmonies. I’ve been in choirs in school and college and there’s a great joy in hearing the different vocal parts combine to make one beautiful sound.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

 Just one? A cruel question, if ever I heard one! I have always had a huge affection for Watership Down by Richard Adams as it was my favourite book to read as a child. Although I think I would probably get some strange looks to have my nose in a book while it’s raining fire from the sky.

Please tell us about your debut novel: 

A Class Apart, is available in both ebook and paperback from July 10th. Set in Ireland in 1828, it’s the first book in my six-part historical fiction series A Matter of Class. The series follows heiress Bridget and stable hand Cormac who are on opposite sides of the class divide – and because of that, society says they shouldn’t fall in love. Keep an eye out for the second volume, A Class Entwined, coming in 2019!

Buy Link: Amazon UK

 

Thank you very much for having me today, Pam!

I am sure we would all like to wish Susie the very best of luck with her debut release tomorrow and her future writing career. It was a pleasure to chat to her this evening.

If you would like to know about Susie and her work, please check out the links below:

In the Library with Author Sarah Dahl

This evening in the Library we have Sarah Dahl, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Sarah, you are very welcome. Please introduce yourself:

Sarah Dahl Author

I live on the edge of the rural German Eifel and write historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. I’m interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. I don’t focus on the kings and chieftains, but the very people battling to love and survive. The “You & Me” of previous centuries, because to them I can relate most. Find my books on sarah-dahl.com

Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I’ve always been and still am an avid reader. I always read half a dozen books simultaneously: on the desk and floors: research books and articles, on the desk and nightstand: histfic by authors I adore (try Nicola Griffith), and on the nightstand and my phone, for pure relaxation: some cosy crime or thrillers. I can’t read in exactly my own genre, which I would describe as sensual histfic romance – I’m too close to it. I can’t relax, I analyse, criticise, I am too brutal or too envious, in case the writing is rubbish or really great. It’s a Berufskrankheit (trade disease) as we say 😉

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical fiction, mainly set in the Viking age. But why? I was always drawn to the North, its people and violent but advanced culture. Vikings were the most daring and adventurous of people and also the most sophisticated in many aspects of daily life, such as tolerance, equality, and concepts of respect and honour. I’m fascinated by their mindset and world view and the daily challenges they faced at home and abroad, on new territories. Plus Vikings were fearless fighters, which makes them really sexy – so I can play with all those aspects and explore gritty topics in a sensual context.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

I’m releasing sensual short stories in the collection Tales of Freya. It is a collection of short stories set in the Viking Age:

In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives — all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives. So far, I have released five Tales, and the sixth releases July 6:

Tower – Unchained by Love is about young Viking Myskia, who sets out on a revenge mission which turns from bloody to sensual.

Tell us about the story, Sarah:

PrintYoung Viking Myskia lands on Irish shores to rescue his lover Adisa from the clutches of his family’s enemy Raven. After a fierce duel, Myskia finds himself in the confined walls of a strange tower, facing Adisa. Their reunion turns out to be very different than what he imagined. Can the passion they once shared break down the walls that have grown between them after months of slavery? Or has she changed in ways he’s unprepared for?

Set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.

Buy links: Amazon UK & Amazon US

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Maybe not my writing as such, but definitely my work ethos. Germans show up, and on time. We tick off to-do lists. We also make our own lives hell if we do NOT deliver … and here’s the downside of being freelance; I sometimes hate my inner editor and my inner boss.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I have the freedom to be creative and within my own schedule. I can throw in a nap or tend to a sick kid. But I also carry the workload and pressure of releasing on my own: When I get ill (and I was seriously ill with the flu this year) everything gets derailed, and I’m the one who has to get it all back on track, on my own. If I decide not to work on a certain day, it can feel amazing to be that free – but it will come back to haunt me when I’ve been too lenient with myself. So I carry this constant bad conscience and an endless inner to-do list.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I enjoy social media more than I initially thought: Everyone tells new authors to “get out there” and socialise to promote their work in an nice way. But I found that I love connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter, which are two very different outlets. I see the benefits in both and finally have gotten the hang of them. I try to be professional (no family pictures and rants) and interact with real interest in others and much gratefulness. I found real friends there who I can rely on and who can rely on me – and some of them became “real-life” friends whom I regularly meet. It’s fascinating – as long as you don’t get sucked into the currents too much. A healthy distance is necessary to stay sane, of course. (See Sarah’s social media links below)

Facebook:

Twitter:

Pinterest: (The visual inspiration boards, come in and browse!)

Goodreads:

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

Definitely something creative, because in hindsight I’ve never been an office type, even while I was “the boss” at a translation agency … something inside me rebelled against having to be at an exact place at a specific time every day to serve the needs of stressed superiors. I always wanted to be my own boss, and free. To have the freedom to be creative when and how I need to be, at nobody’s short notice — that’s the reason why I chose to go independent … and the German mindset helps getting shit done, and on time. I’m my own worst boss.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

I wouldn’t be able to read … but would grab my real Viking axe, go out and fight like a true Viking before I see Valhalla 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation with Author Patricia Asedegbega

This evening in the Library we have Patricia Asedegbega, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Patricia, please introduce yourself: 

24I live in sunny Spain and have been writing for about six years now. I started with a collection of cat stories to raise funds for a shelter and then moved on to my first suspense novel. I write both in Spanish and English and have series in both languages. Though I am a biologist, writing is my true passion. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author Patricia Asedegbega”

A Conversation with Author Sharon Thompson

Head shot 1 Feb 2018 copy for gravatarThis evening in the Library, I am delighted to welcome fellow Irish author, Sharon Thompson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Please tell us a little about yourself:

Sharon Thompson here, Irish author who is living in Donegal. I write anything I can but my debut crime novel just launched in January 2018 with leading digital publishers, Bloodhound Books UK. It was a #1 Best-seller on Kindle. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author Sharon Thompson”