Interview with Kate Garrett.

It’s been a while since I posted an interview on this here website, so I am going to fix that right now!

Last December, I had the privilege of meeting up with the totally brilliant Kate Garrett.

Kate is a member of the good ship Pankhearst and the managing director of Three Drops Press. She also writes some truly wonderful poetry. Her latest collection, The Density of Salt, is out now.

reading to rhubarb

So, lets crack on with the interview and see how Kate dealt with my random questions.

Here we go…


Tell me a little about ‘The Density of Salt’.

The Density of Salt is really a collection about journeys, changes, growing up. There’s a lot of sex and fairytales and myth and putting mother/child interactions under the microscope. Freud would probably have fun with it.


The title is from a line in one of the poems, ‘Following the River Exe on a Wednesday Afternoon’, and I decided it was the right thing to call the collection because salt covers so many bases – the sea, blood, tears, sweat, there is salt everywhere. One of my friends in Sheffield is a science teacher and a writer, and at the pamphlet launch he talked with me about how salt is made of two elements – sodium and chloride, obviously – that on their own are volatile and deadly, but if they’re combined to make salt they are necessary for life. The Density of Salt as a collection has more than a hint of this kind of precarious balance.

TDOS cover

You have a passion for myths, magic and all things ethereal. Tell me a little about this and how it has influenced your poetry.

I do indeed. And the biggest influence this has on my poetry is my desire to make the ethereal more tangible, and the tangible more ethereal. If something is magical I want to make it feel real. If something is mundane, I want to make it a myth.


How do you manage to juggle being the brains behind Three Drops and a being on the good ship Pankhearst?

Passion (for helping writers), loyalty (to the good ship Pankhearst, and to writers) and a love of books! They are two very different places to work, and that keeps things interesting. A lot of writers have crossed from one to the other as well, which is nice – and I’ve recently started up an online-only journal, Picaroon Poetry, as well.

bewitched for website

Out of all your poems, which one are you most proud of?

I always say ‘Changeling’, because it’s the first poem I wrote where I felt like ‘Wow, if this was someone else’s poem, I’d love this, I did a good job.’ But now I’m also proud of ‘When I think about Hans Christian Andersen’. They’re both about my mother and growing up in an abusive home, but the latter is also about dealing with PTSD and how you get an odd sort of super-strength through the ongoing recovery from trauma.


Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?

If I am writing / outlining prose fiction, then yes I do listen to music when writing – and what kind is dictated by what I’m working on. When I was outlining plot, characters and prose sections for Bewitched, I listened to a lot of Ocean Colour Scene, Belly, The Jam, Bush, Sarah McLachlan… I actually still have a full Bewitched playlist on Spotify!


Poetry is a different thing altogether, because of the musicality involved in writing a poem – even in modern free verse, where I’m not consciously counting beats or syllables, metre is important to me. I write from my own sense of rhythm. Listening to music just confuses that situation.


What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?

I honestly have no idea. It’s just what I’ve always done, from the time I was three and a half years old. And now I’m nearly 36, and other people read what comes out of it, so why on earth would I stop?


Which poem do you wish you had written?

Only the ones I haven’t managed to write yet.


The best thing about being a writer is…

As far as the craft itself: satisfaction of having created a thing – and I don’t mean “writing” as getting the idea down on paper, the first scribbles. I mean the editing, and redrafting, shaping of it – so much of my writing is rewriting. You know when something is finally finished (or as good as it will get). And the best thing about being a writer whose work is seen / heard by others: the sense of connection, and you never know when that’s going to happen or who it will be. It’s always magical when someone sees themselves in your story or your poem.


The worst thing is …

Self-doubt; periodically coming to fisticuffs with the inner critic. Kicking its ass is hard work…

Same here! Finally, anything in the pipeline we should know about?

Decked in Jackstays, which is my collection of historical fiction / murderous / sexy / queer / feminist / tough / all-heart pirate poems. It’ll be released via Pankhearst later this year. I just need to finish it first.


My thanks to Kate for her fantastic answers. To finish, Kate has kindly given me two poems to post for your reading pleasure. If you would like to know more, click on the links! You know you wanna 🙂


Anne Bonny walks out to sea


The salted air no longer stings my cheeks,

just as a skilled carpenter never splinters wood.

This path pushes out, sanded smooth; I reel along


it to the shoreline, away from honest, lawful

men who trade another’s neck for silver. I decide

to chance my own for waves, fitted with a mermaid’s


tail – trousers hide my landlegs, curls knotted

behind my back, tucked under my hat. I would swing

before I let Jack down, drown before my debt is settled.


If only he brought fire from our bed to steam the water’s

edge. He lacks ambition. But he loves me for the way I hold

a gun, the knife wiped clean of blood on my white shirt.


(From Decked in Jackstays)



When I Think About Hans Christian Andersen


from this pile of detritus

cushioning our bodies

where we fuck,

where we laugh,

where we sleep –


instead of twenty mattresses

and feather beds,


I have duvets,

yoga mats, my old baby blanket.


There is no pea waiting there to test me

but sometimes I still detect the pinch

of 1991 in the hollow of my back:


its sting of ribbon-rainbowed

hair clips, missing guitar

picks, bottles of Opium

and Dior Poison on a walk-in

closet shelf –


inside I’d hide my knotted

hair and too-short jeans

curled into the scented dark

trying to imagine infinity.


She pushes up through

the sheets, into my skin,


your whispers drowned out

by the thud of a washing machine

spinning her clothes;


my sparrow hips threaten

collapse under the thought

of her missing collarbones,


her thick calves, asphyxiation

breasts, the delicate press of her fist,


and a fairytale blooming

in the scrape of her nails


against my cheek. Still,

let her try to prove I’m not a princess.


(from The Density of Salt)

Sorry I didn’t say Goodbye…


Yeah, I went missing. Sorry about that.

Due to personal stuff and illness, writing and publishing had to be paused as I dealt with real life.

Good news is I am back.


GCG will be out as soon as.

Look out for a short story collection too.

And a new novella.

And poetry.

Stay tuned. It’s gonna be fun!

Thanks and bless you all,


Return to Zen?


Hi there!

Well, reality keeps on getting in the way of my writing and GCG keeps on getting pushed back.


However, I do plan on releasing GCG as soon as. News on a release date will be coming this month. Honest.

Now follows something I posted on Facebook an hour or so ago…

Dear Yuko fans. 

In the past week, I have had some wonderful reviews for the story of that kooky Zen girl.
This has inspired me somewhat.
Would anyone be interested in a spin-off novel, featuring Mei, the girl Yuko meets at Mephisto Disco.

What do you think?
The idea I have is very Donnie Darko-esque.  It could be fun.
Or do you feel I should leave the Zen universe be?
Your thoughts are most welcome!

So, dear readers and friends, what do you think?

The idea I had kept me awake until the small hours. Scenes from this unwritten opus kept popping into my head until I had no choice but to get up and write them down. Only after writing down five scribbled pages of notes did I manage to get some sleep.

Looking back at my notes now, I reckon this book could be something quite cool.

Oh, and the title would be MEPHISTO DISCO.

So, should I go ahead with this?

Should I return to Zen?


Your thoughts and ideas are most welcome!



Interview with A.F.E. Smith

So, here we are in June! I don’t know about you, but this year seems to be flying by!

Anyway, time for another interview 🙂

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with A.F.E. Smith, a marvelous writer whose new book ‘DARKHAVEN’ will be released 2nd July 2015 as an eBook, with the paperback following 14 January 2016.


Here’s the blurb for your reading pleasure!

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.


Sounds good, right?

So, without any further delay, let’s move onto the interview…


So, tell me a little about Darkhaven.

It’s a fantasy murder mystery. The basic premise is that Ayla’s father has been killed, she’s the sole suspect and she has to clear her name. So it’s a bit like the movie The Fugitive, if the Harrison Ford character had been able to turn into a winged unicorn. (And I think we can all agree, that would have made the movie awesome.)

I totally agree!


Out of all the characters in Darkhaven, which one do you relate to the most?

I see a lot of myself in Ayla. She’s impatient, argumentative, and wants to do everything herself because she doesn’t trust anyone else to do it properly. But she’s also determined, fiercely loyal, and tries to do the right thing even if it costs her.

She’s a lot more outspoken than I am, though, so I suspect I’d find her intimidating if we were ever to meet.


I like the cover art who did it?

Thank you! I’m very fond of it myself 🙂 The cover is by Alexandra Allden for Harper Voyager. She’s done lots of gorgeous covers – you can see some of them on her Twitter profile @Lexiesox.


Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?

I can’t. I wish I could. But I’m very much a sing-along sort of girl when it comes to music, so if I try to write and listen to music simultaneously, I just end up singing instead of writing.

Also, on a practical level, I do a lot of my writing when Tiny (my younger child) is napping, so music would be a little counterproductive.


What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your novels?

Maybe a board game? The city of Arkannen, where the novel is set, would lend itself to a great strategy game. It consists of seven rings, each accessed by a single gate, with Darkhaven itself in the middle. So you could have an Escape from Darkhaven game where the aim is to get from the centre of the board to the edge before you’re caught.

I am totally going to make that game and force my children to play it.

Let me know if you do, I’d like to give the game a go!


What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?

Right now, the fear of impending deadlines 🙂

More generally, I just want to tell stories and have someone, somewhere, enjoy them. I’ve been writing since I was six years old, so I suppose it’s in my blood. No matter how disillusioned I’ve become with the writing process in the past, I’ve never quite been able to stop doing it.

I’m not someone who feels like they have something important to say, though. My sole desire is to entertain people. Books have been the greatest source of comfort and excitement and interest in my life, so if my writing can provide those things for someone else, that’s really all I’d ask for.

Meeting deadlines and a desire to entertain. Yeah, I’d say the same about myself, except I’m terrible at the whole deadline thing!


Which book do you wish you had written?

The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I read the first one, The Knife of Never Letting Go, when I’d just been introduced to ebooks for the first time, and it blew me away. As soon as I finished it, I went straight back to download the other two.

Anyone who thinks young adult literature is more simplistic than adult, or has to contain a tired old love triangle subplot, should really read these books. They are also an excellent example of how writing in multiple first-person, present-tense viewpoints can be done really well.


The best thing about being a writer is

Finding people who actually enjoy what I write. (Hopefully there will be some!)

Oh, I’m sure there will be!


The worst thing is …

Never being convinced that anything I’ve done is good enough. I battle constantly with feelings of total and utter inadequacy. I suppose it’s true of all artistic endeavours, that what we imagine in the unfettered spaces of our own heads is always far grander and more beautiful than what emerges on the page.


What next from A.F.E. Smith?

I have a second book coming out in January, and (in theory) a third the following July. With any luck, I’ll get some sleep sometime between now and then.

Exciting times ahead! Looking forward to your future releases and hope you get some good sleep. 

Ladies and Gents, you know what to do!

Here are all the links you will need to follow A.F.E. Smith and her fantastic works. Oh yes, and a bio too! Don’t say I don’t spoil you.

Author biography

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

Buy links

Amazon (global link)
Barnes & Noble
Google play

Author social media links

DARKHAVEN on Goodreads

Facebook release party:,

Interview with Dyane Forde

The interviews go ever on and on…

Next up is Dyane Forde, author of ‘The Purple Morrow’ and ‘Wolf’s Bane’, the first two books of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy.

IMG_1382 (2)

I’ve just started on ‘The Purple Morrow’ and am really impressed. As I often say, ’tis a damn fine yarn!

You know the rules: read, enjoy, support and enjoy some more!

Here we go…


Tell me a little about your latest book.

In February 2015, I released Wolf’s Bane book two of the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy. This book takes the reader deeper into the conflict developing across Marathana, introduces the reader to new players and people groups and drastically raises the stakes. Questions of identity, individual choice versus the greater good are explored. Jeru struggles to accept his destiny while Kelen fights the evil dogging his every move, all of it leading to a devastating end.

I’ve included the blurb to give you a better taste:

The Purple Morrow is destroyed. However, its promise endures in the form of a champion, mankind’s only hope against the destruction spawned by an ancient, sinister evil.

The Rovers have invaded the Southernlands, sending its inhabitants fleeing for respite. Waylaid in a defunct desert town, and reeling from revelations about his past, a powerful, emerging evil lures Kelen to seek vengeance. Though he resists, Kelen soon learns that the Shadow Man will not relent until a terrible, ancient claim is fulfilled.

As Marathana quails under the burgeoning darkness, Jeru’s clan looks to him to lead. Jeru, however, knows his path lies elsewhere. Leaving everything behind, he braves the Badlands, a hellish desertland, to awaken the latent spirit of the Papilion within him. Jeru learns much in that place of desolation, including one truth which could turn destiny on its head. Now more than ever, Kelen, the Wolf of the North, threatens everything he holds dear. Jeru must choose: save the people he loves, or sacrifice them to save Marathana.

jeru4_ahands Digital painting of Jeru.

Nice blurb! I also have to comment on the quality of your book covers, they are very good indeed.



When did you decide that writing was the thing for you?

I always knew. From the time I wrote my first story in the first grade; when I started ear-marking pages in books so I could go back to look up the meanings of words I didn’t know; when I realized nothing gave me more pleasure than reading a good book and then putting it down to pick up another. I just loved books and knew I wanted to write my own one day.

 I was kind of the same. I loved books from the off. 🙂


Out of all your characters, which one is the most fun/interesting to write?

Wow. There is no easy way to answer that. Each character has a little of me in them, for one. And I like to have fun with my characters. Like, I like to try new voices or experiment with style to portray them. Finding and honing a Voice and then running with it is really what makes it fun to write a character.

 If I had to pick one, though, I have to say that Oren, the Master Seer and one of the main antagonists in Wolf’s Bane, was great fun to write. He’s this sly, disillusioned, passionate, and driven devil of a man—writing the scenes where he’s vying for power against his nemesis, Ambroze, was a blast. I’d always wanted to write a scene where two great minds with a lot at stake go up against each other—it played out like a movie in my head. I loved making Oren squirm! Oh, and a second character I grew to love writing is Seylem, Kelen’s ‘conscience’ of sorts and also from the same book. The two get off to a rocky start and then sort of develop this odd-couple kind of comraderie. I love writing male characters, which can be a challenge for a female writer. But these kind of challenges are what makes it so much fun to write in the first place.


Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?

I used to a lot. I found it helped get me into a flow, especially when I was grasping for words to write something lyrical. I also do it when I’m stuck, unmotivated, or tired. I find music distracts from the fatigue or the block itself. Also, when my inner editor tries to wreck everything that comes to mind, I find music drowns out the negativity so that I can get words on the page. If they suck, then they suck. But at least I have something to work with.

I don’t have much preference, really. I usually just get the ear buds in and set my phone to shuffle. Anything works. If you want to know more about my thoughts on music and writing, I blogged about it here:

I suggest folk check out Dyane’s thoughts on music and writing. Interesting stuff!


What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?

Great ideas or concepts for stories that deeply move me or make me think; when I suddenly get clarity on a problem I have been trying to solve, such as why a character doesn’t work, or discovering a character’s motivation or Voice; when I just need an emotional release, are some examples.


The best thing about being a writer is…

…holing up with my laptop or pen and paper and letting inspiration take over. Then breaking up the piece, reworking it again and again until it takes the shape it needs to. Crafting the story—finding ways to elevate it from the ordinary to something different, striking, or meaningful–is what I enjoy best. Someone once used that word to describe my writing and it was one of the best compliments, ever.

I agree. Compliments like that keep me writing.


The worst thing is …

…dealing with how hard it is to get books into the hands of readers, for one. Marketing and promotion is essential but very time and energy consuming. I’d love to put all that into writing instead. Second, is getting feedback/reviews. Feedback is so important to an author—we work hard and love to hear from our readers, and honest, thoughtful reviews can motivate a new reader to take a chance on our book.

I hear ya!


What next from Dyane Forde?

I took a break from blogging and social media because I needed it, but I hope to get back into regular blogging and collaborating with people. Right now, I’m waiting for feedback on a few stories I submitted to some emagazines. Nor’easter, a literary fiction story that was short-listed in the Storgy writing contest, will soon be out in their Kindle anthology. And lastly, I’m working on the last book of my Papilion trilogy called Berserker. I’m about 75% done the first draft. I’m really looking forward to finishing the trilogy so I can work on the other books I have on the back burner.

 Great interview, Dyane. Cheers!

And now for her bio and links.

Bio: Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. She was amazed at how linking words together in different ways had unexpected and pleasing results on others. This sparked a life-long desire to write all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction, poetry. To Forde, every story or book represents new challenges. Forde views writing as an amazing and intimate communication tool, meaning that it becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with people on a level deeper than intellect.










Interview with Lela Markham

So, the month of May is drawing to a close. Blimey, where does the time go?

Anyway, time to post my least interviews of this busy month.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Lela Markham, author of ‘The Willow Branch’ and ‘Life As We Knew It’.

Author pic ditch

Lela is a fellow writer from the Breakwater Harbor Books clan and was one of the first to give me a warm welcome.

As per usual, I hope you folks out there enjoy the interview and will go support another excellent writer!

Here we go…

When did you decide that writing was the thing for you?

My mom said I told stories from the time I could talk, so I must have been around 2. Long winters in Alaska meant a lot of time hanging out in the basement, so I would make up stories to entertain myself and my friends. My 5th grade teacher made me write down one of my stories. I hated the process – way too contrived for me – but it ignited a passion that I couldn’t turn off. I’ve been a journalist, a technical writer, and an editor, but my avocation has always been storyteller.

I think long winters can be very productive for a writer 🙂


Tell me a little about your latest book.

Life as We Knew It is an apocalyptic tale that asks what would happen to ordinary if the United States were hit by nuclear terrorism, destroying transportation and communications hubs. The larger events of terrorism are the background for an intimate story of people trying to survive. This is Book 1 of the Transformation Project, which hit Amazon in March, so we will return to visit the people of Emmaus in about a year. Look for Objects to the Rear.

Front Cover LAWKI no window

Out of all your characters, which one do you relate to the most?

In the Daermad Cycle (which Book 1, The Willow Branch, was published last year), one of the main characters is Ryanna. I modeled her physically after my daughter (a tall, strong, slender dancer, which isn’t me), but I realized recently when writing some scenes for her that I had unconsciously used a lot of myself in her character. She’s caught between two races, comfortable with both, not loving the prejudices of either, a woman of faith who occasionally argues with her god, a young fool who has grown In wisdom as she has matured. I’m part American Indian, raised to be proud of all of my heritage and I see both sides of my heritage as both good and bad. My faith is complex and I am still growing as a person even now.

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation Cover

Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?

I do and depends on what genre I’m writing or what the tone of the scene is. For example, writing the Daermad Cycle (a Celtic influenced epic fantasy) I listen to a lot of Celtic music – wild tunes for action scenes, gentler tunes for more intimate scenes. Transformation Project has a lot of rock music playing in my ear phones. I try to create a mood in my head with the music that helps me to envision the scenes. Since I write at home while the family is living life sometimes in the same room, it also helps to screen out the distractions.

Yeah, music does help to screen out distractions. Sadly, it is only partially successful!


What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your novels?

Wow, I had never thought of that before as I’m not much of a consumer. There’s a novel I’m working on that is about grief, loss and guilt. It’s provisionally titled “What If … Wasn’t” and the main character’s full tag line is “I’m living in what is.” Coffee cups, t-shirts, plaques – if I wanted to teach the world anything about reality it would be that we ought to live in reality and stop thinking the world is fair, because it’s not. What if wasn’t … so let’s live with what is.


What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?

Characters show up from time to time to tell me their stories. I might as well write them down. If along the way, I can write about some of my beliefs in narrative form, then maybe I’ve made the world a slightly better place – or at least warned it about the messes that it’s making.

 Nice answer 🙂

Which book do you wish you had written?

There’s a lot of writers I admire for many diverse reasons and I enjoy their books greatly, but I am comfortable with not being them or writing their books. If I had to name my absolutely favorite book – The Young Unicorns by Madelaine L’Engle. Every time I go back to read it, I am incredibly impressed with how good it is.


The best thing about being a writer is…

Writers live dozens of lives without ever leaving the comfort of their living rooms. That can be said of readers too, but writers get to create the worlds we visit. That’s what I love about it.

I couldn’t agree more. 

The worst thing is …

The way non-writers really don’t get the writing process. Even readers who are very enamored of our books seem not to get that you don’t just sit down and crank out a good book as easily as they read that book. I have to suppress the eye roll when people ask “Are you finished yet?”


What next from Lela Markham?

I’m in Daermad Cycle mode right now. I’m working on Mirklin Wood, which is the sequel to The Willow Branch and also working on a short story for a Breakwater Harbor Books anthology that will be a stand-alone in the Daermad Cycle universe. That’s been interesting to write because it’s my first short story in 25 years, so it’s sort of like remembering how to ride a bike. Hopefully, I’ll be done writing both by August so I can start the editing process for Mirklin Wood, which I hope will publish by the end of the year.

Front Cover

Thanks for the interview, Lela! 

Here comes Lela’s bio and links:

Lela Markham is a pen name. I grew up in Alaska in a house built of books. Long winter nights meant a lot of time in the basement curled up with books or acting out what we’d recently read. It was a great environment to breed a writer. I told stories from the time I could talk. A teacher made me write one down in 5th grade and that ignited a passion in me that has never gone out. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits. I’ve been a journalist, worked in the mental health field, and currently work for the State of Alaska, but my avocation has always been storyteller. My husband is extremely adventurous, my kids are fearless so we spend a lot of time hiking into the woods where be dragons — another excellent experience for a writer.



Interview with Scott Toney

Continuing with my interviews with BHB folk, next up is Scott Toney.

Scott is Co-Founder, Author at Breakwater Harbor Books, and a thoroughly nice person!


When he asked me to become a BHB author, I jumped at the chance. I’m very happy that GhostCityGirl has found a suitable home!

But enough about me, it’s time to throw some random q’s at Scott…


When did you decide that writing was the thing for you?


It’s so hard to put a lock down on that, because I’ve been engrossed in writing some work or other since I was at least around fourteen years old, but my real passion for writing started when I was seventeen and began writing Dusk Crescence, my Fantasy genre poetry book. There haven’t been many days since I began writing that book that I haven’t written something.

51g7DTpAaJL 51+RcQiGPwL__SL1002_ 91oncP1+7sL__SL1500_


What is your favourite written work so far?


Eep. My favorite so far has got to be The Ark of Humanity. It’s got a bit of everything, faith, sci-fi/fantasy, love and darkness, and I feel it is the most unique and beautiful of my book premises.


I am halfway through Ark and it does indeed have a bit of everything! It’s also a very good read. 🙂

Out of all your characters, which one do you relate to the most?


My wife says that there’s a character in each of my books that I am very similar too. The funny thing is that she’s right. I’d have to say that the one I currently relate to the most though is Ben in the Romantic Suspense book Hearts of Avon. I’ve worked real bits of my life in to his character and his personality is a decent bit like mine. In the Nova Trilogy I’d say I relate the most to Ivanus.


Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?


I never did before this year but now that I’m writing NovaSiege, the second in the Nova Trilogy, I’m listening to the musical score to Guardians of the Galaxy and the musical score to The Lord of the Rings. They really get the mind in the right place and because there are no words nothing distracts my mind from my own words.

Ooh, I haven’t listened to the LOTR soundtrack for ages. Must give is a spin later. 


What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your novels?


Comic books based on my Nova Trilogy. 🙂

Good answer! 


What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?


The responses from my readers about how much they enjoy my works really drive me forward, that and the desire to strengthen people’s faith through my Christian works.


Which book do you wish you had written?


The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. Williams is the master, the pinnacle of authorship. And that book is stunning.

Good choice! Tad Williams is rather excellent. 

The best thing about being a writer is…


The dozens of worlds spinning through my mind constantly and the friendships forged with other authors.

Totally agree there!


The worst thing is …


Not having enough time in the day to write more.

What next from Scott Toney?


In June the second book in the Nova Trilogy is releasing and then I’ll be working on book three in the Trilogy, NovaDark, a sequel to The Ark of Humanity, a short Sci-Fi work for Breakwater Harbor Books’ upcoming Anthology and a short Christian short work that I’ll probably be releasing before the end of the year. There are too many stories in my mind and not enough time to get them all on paper!

novasiege - FINAL - copyright owned by Scott Toney

Thanks, Scott!

Thanks so much Simon! Have a fantastic day!


Ladies and Gents, do go check out Scott’s novels. You know it makes sense! 

Here comes Scott’s bio:

Singer, Father, Husband and Author, Scott J. Toney is a family man first and a great lover of the written word. With over 45,000 copies sold he tackles Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Christian genres, using his Journalism and Public Relations background in constructing characters and worlds.
His first book, The Ark of Humanity, is a what-if mer novel based on the story of Noah and the flood. His most recent work is the Sci-Fi book NovaForge, a fast-paced post apocalyptic read. Scott holds degrees in Journalism and Public Relations and marks his greatest achievement as his family.

“I can see comparisons to Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy in some of the themes raised [in The Ark of Humanity]. As with Pullman’s ‘daemons’, the relationship between the beings and their companions who transport them is particularly enjoyable, a relationship which also reminded me of the dragons in the film ‘Avatar’. I can see this as a fantastic storyboard for a Pixar film.” – HarperCollins’ review of The Ark of Humanity

Scott’s links:


The Ark of Humanity

Eden Legacy

Hearts of Avon

Lazarus, Man

The Last Supper: John

Interview with Mindy Haig

Here we go with the first of my interviews with some of the lovely Breakwater Harbor Books folks.
First up is Mindy Haig, author of The Wishing Place, and quite a few other titles!


Let’s see how she tackled my random questioning!

When did you decide that writing was the thing for you?


I wrote some poetry pieces back in High School that were published in our school Literary Magazine.  And though I always thought I would write a book, it wasn’t until 2009 that I actually found myself in a position to give it a fair chance.  It took me a year to write my first book, Kiss Her in the Moonlight. After that I immediately drafted two others: Midnight Radio (not published) and Glory, and I had a pitch ready for The Wishing Place.

Once the ideas were flowing, I just couldn’t stop.

kiss her v4 final      Glory Cover TWPfinalwborder

Out of all your characters, which one do you relate to the most?


I would have to say the character I poured the most of myself into is Lea from Kiss Her in The Moonlight. I think the first book a writer completes is based very deeply on his/her own experiences and feelings, likes and dislikes, so while I am not Lea, there are definitely things about myself that I made part of her; most notably my love of music, and that feeling that she just didn’t quite fit in the place or time she was born into.

Other than that, I would say Jantzen Burke from Hidden in the Pages is the character I can relate to the most because he definitely spends a lot of his time inside his mind.  He’s the person who takes care of everything and everyone except himself, but pours his heart out in poems in a magic journal.


Do you have a strict writing regime? 


No! I have a job and a family. My two teenagers are both athletes. My whole world revolves around my ability to be flexible! I carry my iPad (greatest invention ever) everywhere. I write down ideas and have entire dialogue conversations sitting in my car waiting to pick up one or the other of the kids. My laptop is on the kitchen counter, and it would not be unexpected to see me writing while watching dinner cook in the oven.

Sounds a little like how I write! 


Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?


Yes, I listen to music. Sometimes it is music that specifically relates to the book.  When I wrote Kiss Her in the Moonlight, the book had a whole soundtrack because I had to be sure the music fit the time-frame of the book. When I wrote Midnight Radio (not released) I was doing a lot of yoga at the time and the yoga class itself sort of became associated with the story.  The Instructor actually burned me a disc with the music she taught to on it.

Most of my books have a specific song that inspired me. The Wishing Place has a song that Nick calls the bedtime song, but it is really a song by Donny and Marie Osmond. Nights on Broadway was named for the Bee Gee’s song, but the song that really got me into the story was Love Look What You’ve Done To Me by Boz Skaggs, and one of the short stories in my recent collection Under A Million Stars is based off a disco song. So, I am sort of all over the place as far as what I listen to. You should see my Pandora stations!

 I think an eclectic taste in music is most useful for a writer!


What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your novels?


I would love to see someone do a fan fiction based on The Wishing Place/The White Room.  One of my readers gave her daughter the book – she was in middle school at the time and she did her final grade project for her language arts class on my book! It included a visual presentation as well, and she got an A on her project. I was so excited, I mean I was really ridiculously happy that she chose my book and she got such a good grade on such a little known book.

A resurgence of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots would also be great!




What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?


There are at least a million characters in my head. I can always find something to write about.  The thing I love most, what really motivates me is the research. When I wrote Glory, I researched every flashback, the history, the religion, the myth, even down to what newspaper stories were happening and what shows were playing on Broadway. I learn new things with every book.  It keeps me sharp and young to some extent.

My daughter, Delaney, is a graphic arts student as well as a budding writer herself. She does all of my covers and the process gives us so much to talk about, so that is an added perk.


If you could get everyone in the world to read one book, which book would it be and why?


I would say The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, but I am fairly certain that everyone in the world has read that book.

If I could get everyone in the world to read one of my books, it would definitely be Glory.  It’s such an interesting thought. If you look back through all of history, religion and myth, there is always a character who is discord, trouble. I had this idea that what if it was the same guy. What if it was one being cast out of his home and made to walk the human world until the judgment day opened the gates and allowed him back home. What would he do? What would he be like? How far would he be willing to go to get back to his home? Glory takes place in 1996, but the main character has flashbacks to his many lifetimes of being drawn to places of turmoil hoping to encourage the end of the world.

 I totally agree about Hitchhiker’s. It’s a work of genius.


The best thing about being a writer is…


I live a thousand lives. The best thing about being a writer is that moment when the whole story comes together, especially in a story like Glory or The White Room where you get to the climax and even as the writer, you’re holding your breath waiting to see how it is going to play out.  And when you get that review from a reader that says ‘I did not see that coming’ or ‘the ending blew me away’ that is the ultimate reward of being a writer. When I see the reviews and I get to know that I have given that reader something they really enjoyed, that’s what it’s all about for me.


The worst thing is …


Promoting. No doubt about it.
I so agree!

What next from Mindy Haig?


I have 8 books drafted, I hope to get Forsaken, the sequel to Glory, out this summer. I am working on something new that is tentatively titled The Postcard, that I hope to release in 2015 and I will be submitting a short story that is a spin off from Hidden in the Pages to the Breakwater Harbor Books Gateway Anthology due out this summer.


Thanks so much, Mindy.

Dear friends, do check out her wonderful works and support a hardworking writer!

Here follows Mindy’s bio: 

I am a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick New Jersey. I was born and raised in New Jersey so I am very much a city slicker. I moved to Florida to marry my sweetheart after college and marveled at how little there was to do and how much one had to drive to do it! But due to a job change and an abrupt move, we settled in Austin, Texas where the mottos is ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and I try my best to uphold it!
I am the mother of 2 great kids and though writing has always been a pursuit I was interested in, being a Mommy got in the way for quite a few years. I decided I would give it a fair shake in 2009 and I haven’t been able to quit since. I have 4 completed novels and I have 4 additional started novels plus 2 sequels all in various stages of gestation. I have a hard time stopping my ideas and when a seemingly great idea hits me – typically just as I am attempting to fall asleep – I am compelled to start an outline.
My 2 great talents are:
1. My remarkable ability to remember names – which has served me well.
2. My ability to remember lyrics from every song I ever heard in the 70’s and 80’s – which has not helped me in the slightest.
I have a quirky sense of humor and sometimes TV commercials crack me up.
I like the notion of things being ‘meant to be’ or somehow touched by the unexplainable. I also like the effect music has on one’s state of mind and the memories a song can recall.

Here are her links:
Twitter:  @mindyh101


Interview with Evangeline Jennings

Time for an interview!

For my third round of questioning, I caught up with Evangeline Jennings, who is about to release her new novel, Riding in Cars with Girls.


Evangeline is yet another writer I met on Authonomy, but I know her more as the managing editor of the Pankhearst independent writers collective, the group through which I published Yuko Zen.
Never one to mince her words, I was eager to hear her answers to my random questions.
As I hoped, they kicked ass.
Here we go…
 1. To start things off, tell us a little about your latest book.

 Riding in Cars with Girls will be published on April 16th. It’s a full length and very noir crime fiction collection – 85,000 words – and it’s all my usual shit but with different names. Girls with guns, cars, and all kinds of issues, and a frequently wicked twist in every tale. Each of the six stories is named after a car. Four are set in America, two in Europe. So it pretty much reflects how I live my life. Apart from all the killing and vastly superior sex.

Riding In Cars With Girls - Kindle Cover - Promo

2. The thing I admire the most about your writing is your voice. Everything I read by you has protagonists that leap from the pages and smack you in the face. How do you go about writing such vivid characters?
If that’s true – and thank you – then it’s a combination of nature and hard work. All my characters – pretty much – are pieces of me. So their voice is one of my voices. But by the time you read it, it’s a version of me that has been edited, revised and generally picked apart at least a dozen times. Dolly famously said, it costs a lot of money to look this cheap. Well, it takes a lot of work to look this natural.
3. I know that there are writers out there who avoid using expletives. You are certainly not one of those! How do you feel about writers who say F bombs are not necessary in literature?
Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.
It must be noted, as I read that answer, I almost sprayed coffee all over my keyboard and monitor!
4. If Riding in Cars With Girls were to have a soundtrack, who would it be composed and/or performed by?
I have a habit of making mixtapes to accompany my books and I’m sure I’ll be doing that for Riding in Cars with Girls. But a whole new soundtrack, written and performed specifically for the book? There’s a temptation to say Portishead or Tricky, somebody like that. But none of them would work, so I’d go for Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride, The Moaners) or David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker). They’re massive favourites of mine and both make music that’s steeped in America, albeit in different ways. I can’t think of anything better for my story Firebird than Melissa Swingle’s voice and, perhaps, her saw. Yes, she plays the saw. It’s a beautiful and eerie sound. Whereas David Lowery can sound positively English at times and so he would have the European stories covered as well. In an ideal world, they’d work together.

(Trailer Bride YouTube — )

(Cracker YouTube —

Some good choices in music there. 

5. And if it were to be made into a film, who would you choose as director?
The obvious choice would be Quentin Tarantino – people often say my stories are Tarantinoesque – but that would be a mistake. The key to each of these stories is the relationship at its heart and those relationships are all between female characters. I think Riding in Cars with Girls requires a woman director. Someone like Agnieszka Holland who has directed episodes of The Wire, The Killing, and House of Cards. She’s also made a shitload of movies. And if she’s not available, then maybe Debra Granik. Winter’s Bone is still one of my very favourite things.
And excellent choices of directors!


6. What piece of writing are you most proud of so far?

Riding in Cars with Girls is the best thing I’ve done so far. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be publishing it. If you’re not getting better, you might as well give up. Other than that, I’m particularly proud of my last Kindle single, No Christmas. As much as anything else, it’s my punk rock version of The Handmaid’s Tale.


7. What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your writing?

Maybe a sex toy? Or a Cars And Girls Lego set?

How awesome would the Lego set be?

8. If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?

Riding in Cars with Girls by Evangeline Jennings. I’ve heard really good things and she could use the money. Otherwise, failing that and bearing in mind the times we’re living in, the aforementioned Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Beware the Commanders of the Faithful.


9. What motivates you to keep writing?

I usually say something flippant here about a Scottish Castle, but the truth is I write because I don’t know how to stop. I love crafting stories – it’s the only thing I do well – and I have way too many ideas and ambitions to stop. There are things I want to say.

 I agree. But that Scottish Castle would be wonderful…


10. What next from Evangeline Jennings?

I’m working on a book with my BWFF Lucy Middlemass. It’s called First Girl On The Moon and it’s a different kind of YA collection. I’m contributing five interlinked stories and Lucy is writing four of her own. We’re about eighty percent done with the writing now and I reckon it’ll be out in June or maybe July.After that, I plan to focus on long fiction. I have four or five finished novels in the proverbial drawer and it’s time I started making them fit for human consumption. Also I have three or four brand new ideas, including a Gamesy-Throney kind of thing and a sort of steampunk espionage Victorian sex romp thing. Oh, and the obligatory far future post-apocalyptic dystopia thing.

My thanks to Evangeline for a cracking interview.
Ladies and Gents, do go and check out Riding in Cars with Girls. I sure will be. 
Kindle version will be 99c/99p for the first two weeks! 
 Here comes the bio and links!
Born and raised in Liverpool where they invented both football and popular music, Evangeline Jennings now lives in Austin, Texas. The black sheep of her family, she comes from a long line of Californian beauty queens on her mother’s side. Evangeline gets her looks from her father. Mostly Evangeline writes stories about girls. She believes in equality, so she writes about that. She also writes about gender, sexuality, and violence against women. Her characters often seek bloody satisfaction. Sometimes they find it.
In her spare time, Evangeline is the managing editor of the Pankhearst independent writers collective
Riding in Cars with Girls —
No Christmas —
Web Site —
Pankhearst —

Interview with Ivan Amberlake

It’s interview time, again!

For my second round of questioning, I had the pleasure of chatting with Ivan Amberlake, author of Diary of the Gone and The Beholder series.

Author pictire

I’m currently reading his latest novel, Path of the Heretic, which is part two in said series. Have to say, it’s a damn fine read so far.

Ivan is another writer I met on the Authonomy site. As well as writing excellent books, he’s a very nice guy and a first-rate beta-reader!

Intros over, on with the questioning…

  1. To start, I am going to quote something you said on Goodreads: 

‘I love active protagonists who get into a lot of trouble on their way to the truth, and never give up whatever happens to them.’ 

What is it that appeals to you about writing this sort of character?

Conflict is all-important to every story, no matter what type of conflict it is: interior, exterior or both. Characters who find themselves in trouble are highly enjoyable to write about: it’s exciting to experience everything they feel, what they are going through, what they do when their life is in danger, what they feel at moments when everything is at stake. I must say I never let my characters get bored, and I never will, I promise.

Glad to hear that, Ivan!


  1. Path of the Heretic is a sequel to the wonderful The Beholder. How do you think the two compare?

The Beholder is an introduction into the world of the Sighted, the world where people have supernatural power (Energy) that allows them to do things impossible for most people. Jason is forced into this world, is made to see horrible things, and the worst part, he finds out that he can actually trust no one in this harsh world.

Whereas The Beholder tells of the world of the Sighted in terms of Darkness and Light, black and white, in Path of the Heretic the readers find out the “shades of gray”, that there are Sighted who can change their allegiance according to their aims.

As for the writing, Path of the Heretic offers a deeper characterization than the first book. I really had a great time writing chapters both from the Lightsighted and the Darksighted points of view, and I hope this made the story more enjoyable.

Path cover

  1. I found the action scenes in TB to be extremely visual and really exciting to read. How do you go about writing action so well?

As action scenes are fun to project in my imagination, they are often easier to write. When writing an action scene, I have in mind everything that is going on; every little detail is important. The main inspiration for me is the action scenes in The Matrix movies. I can watch them over and over and there’s no way for me to get tired of them. I’m trying to create something close to that, preserving the uniqueness of the world I’ve created in this series.

I must confess to being a Matrix addict, so I know what you mean!

  1. Your books have some damn fine covers. Who does them and which is your favourite?

I often have a few versions of a cover for one book and it’s quite difficult for me to decide which one to use. The cover of The Beholder paperback edition as well as the Diary of the Gone cover were created by a great friend and fellow writer Yannis Karatsioris. He is a really talented guy, and I can’t thank him well enough for all the help and support he has shown for me all these years.


  1. If PotH were to have a soundtrack, who would it be composed and/or performed by? 

Well, a tricky question here since I don’t listen to music when writing anymore. I need silence to be able to concentrate on the plot. However, I occasionally listen to Breaking Benjamin (and at times, Skillet) as their music fills me with inspiration. In terms of music, The Beholder series would be a collection of fast-and-furious songs with beautiful (at times, sorrowful) melodies in between.


  1. Your writing is filled with imaginative ideas. Which thing from your books would you like to see come true? 

The way the Sighted people see and use Energy. I believe that all of us have what we call supernatural abilities, though in most of us they are hidden deep inside. The easiest example would be a mother sensing when her child is in trouble, or the same connection between two siblings. If we were able to find a way to develop these supernatural abilities, and then use them to make our world better, our lives would change greatly. Our approach to life would change. In my opinion, we know too little about ourselves and the world around us. Maybe some day we’ll learn how to use Energy, who knows.


  1. What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your books?

I’m not sure it’s possible these days to create something absolutely unique, something that has never been used or done before. I’m curious as to where the world of Sighted will get. I’m really excited when more people get to know about it and enjoy reading about it.


  1. If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?


One book? With so many outstanding authors out there, it’s impossible to pick just one. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, but I’m sure everyone has already read this. It’s better for not to name just one author or book. What I’d definitely recommend is visiting Breakwater Harbor Books page. BHB is an independent author imprint that is dedicated to the production of high quality works of different genres from Christian books to Epic Fantasy and Zombie novels, and I’m proud to be part of it. You’ll definitely find a book to like there. (

 Have to agree with you there. BHB is home to some very good reads indeed.

  1. What is your motivation to write?

There are lots of reasons why I write. The idea of being able to create my own world has always appealed to me. Besides, writing (as well as reading) helps me get away from the real world. Whereas I can express myself in writing, I do hope that what I write about will stir my readers’ feelings and emotions. One of the things about writing is when your readers contact you and say they enjoyed your book a lot and want more. That’s the best inspiration for me!

 I feel the same way, Ivan. A reader contacting you to say how much they liked reading your book is a wonderful thing.

  1. What next from Ivan Amberlake?

The Beholder and Path of the Heretic are the first two books in THE BEHOLDER series. There will be another one about Jason, called Creatures of Lumen, and hopefully one more written from Emily Ethan’s point of view where the readers will get to know about her life before she meets Jason.

Apart from that, I do have a great idea for a YA futuristic novel not connected with The Beholder series, which I’m excited about, but I’m not sure when I’m going to get to it and finish a first draft.


Thanks, Ivan.

Thank you for the interview, Simon! It’s a real honor for me to be featured on your website!

My pleasure. Here comes the bio and links! 


Bio: Ivan Amberlake is an urban fantasy writer, an avid beta-reader, proofreader and editor who enjoys reading fantasy, crime and thriller books.

He loves watching action movies like The Matrix, Harry Potters and has a soft spot for sitcoms like Friends and The Big Bang Theory.

In 2013 he published his first novel, THE BEHOLDER, and a paranormal suspense novella, DIARY OF THE GONE.


Goodreads author page:
Amazon author page:
Facebook author page:

Ladies and Gents, please do go check out Ivan’s writing. This guy sure knows how to keep readers turning the pages.

Beholder kindlePath coverDiary of the Gone