Nicole Higginbotham ~ Author Interview

I’d like to welcome Nicole Higginbotham, author of Complicated Heart, to my site.

Let us start by finding out a little bit about you…

What is your name, and do you write under a pen name? My name is Nicole Higginbotham-Hogue, and I do not write under a pen name.

Where do you call home? I am from a small farm town in Iowa.

Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you are any good at it? Do you like what you do? I am a full-time author and a full-time mother. I love both positions, though I do not think being a mother is a job. I also think that I do fairly well at both, but I feel like that is because my heart is in it.

What is your family like? I have three kids and a spouse. I would say that my family is fairly average. I have been married for almost six years now, and we like to spend a lot of our time traveling and enjoying the outdoors.

If it does not bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like? I lived in a house that was 100 years old in the middle of a small-town, and I had a barn in my yard.

Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing? I love art in all forms. I like to paint and draw. I also like to garden and dabble in photography from time to time.

What is your greatest dream? Honestly, my greatest dream is that everyone is at peace and cared for.

What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you? I think that I am the person that I wish to be. I do feel like a person grows as the years go by, but for the most part, I am happy with who I am.

Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love? That was so long ago. I really do not remember.

What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing? I realized that I was fascinated with books when I was eight. I was walking in my school library, and I saw a book that was written by a boy my age. After looking closely at his work, I was inspired to try and create my own story. I started by creating picture books and comics, and later on, I wrote screenplays and for newspapers. It took a while for me to realize that my true calling was writing novellas and novels. I have been writing novellas and novellas for about five years now, and during that time, I have had a lot of support from my friends and grandparents.

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not? My dream was to be independent and to go to an Ivy League school. Ironically, life happened, and I did not end up going to that school that I wanted to go to, but I did put myself through college and spend a little time in the military.

Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audiobooks? I prefer paperbacks. I am old school in that way, but I like to be able to flip back and forth through the pages.

Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so, what was it? There are a few books that I read over and over. The one that comes to mind is called Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters.

What is your opinion of novellas? I am a big fan of novellas. At this point in my life, I barely have time to skim the pages of a long novel, so if I see a novella that I like, I usually pick it up. It gives me a better chance of being able to read the whole thing.

Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? I do not think that I have. I love cover art, but I definitely have to read the description of the book before diving into it.

What is your favorite film based on a book? Harry Potter is probably my favorite. I like how they brought all of the elements together in the movie.

What is your favorite book genre at the moment? I am into romance books at the moment. I like when the books focus on the socialization of the characters.

What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why? Currently, I have picked up a copy of the Pink Bean Series. I like this series because it tells the stories of all of the women instead of just focusing on one character.

What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format? I am currently reading the second and third book in the Pink Bean Series as well as a book by J.A. Armstrong. I have extremely limited time to read though as my kids are highly active. These are all in eBook format.

If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why? I would invite Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, Mama June, and possibly Todd Chrisley. I think that these individuals would make for a very entertaining party.

Let us shift somewhat and talk about your latest story

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? It is called Complicated Heart, and it is the fourth book in the Avery Detective Agency Series. It follows Parker and Kay as they continue to work on the case that they encountered in the last book and reflects on their future.

After Parker and the Avery Detective Agency leave Kansas, they are contracted to work in conjunction with the ATF and FBI on solving the mysterious oil trafficking case that is plaguing the area. The group is sent to Chicago in an attempt to get to the bottom of the crime ring that is terrorizing local farmers by confiscating oil from their land, but as they dive deeper into the case, figures from the past emerge, and the group might find that the culprit behind the whole thing is right under their nose.

Is the above book part of a series? Yes, this is the fourth book in the Avery Detective Agency Series.

How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? I used BookBrush to come up with the design.

Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? No, when I write, it has to be quiet.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? I based the title on the situations that the characters go through in the book.

Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it? At this time, I do not.

In your latest novel, who is the lead character, and can you tell us a little about him/her? The lead character is Parker Avery. She is an intelligent, courageous investigator with little patience for technology.

What is your character’s greatest strengths? She is able to empathize with the other characters.

And what are his/her greatest weaknesses? Sometimes, she has trouble opening up about her feelings and processing them.

What are some of his/her favorite foods? She likes steak and wine.

What is a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has? She does not know how empowering she is to the other characters.

Will readers like or dislike this character, and why? I think that readers will like this character, because they will be able to identify with her in some capacity.

What first gave you the idea for your latest book? My readers actually asked for a sequel.

Let us talk now about your writing process.

What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter? I am usually a plotter. There are times that I write outlines, and I do this, because sometimes, I will have a scene completely thought through. However, that scene may be in the middle of the book, so in order to write out that scene, I have to keep track of what came before it and what will come after.

Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time? When I first started, I did not know too much about social media or the different formats that books could come in. If I had the chance to start this all over, I would familiarize myself with social media marketing and professional cover design. I would also pick-up an editing program right away, and I would break into the audiobook business much earlier than I had.

Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company? I am a self-published author.

If you are a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? Early on, I attempted to go with the publisher that I wanted to publish my work, but I received a series of rejection letters every time I contacted that company. Eventually, my wife encouraged me to go my own route, and since then, it has benefited me.

What is the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? The best advice that I have heard is to do something that you love and to try and inspire good in people by doing it. I think that this is especially important advice, and as I get further into my career, I have been working more towards pieces that are somewhat inspirational. I think that a lot of my earlier work was a bit more personal to me and the situations that I had gone through at that time, but now that I have been writing for a while, I am working towards bettering my writing habits and attempting to lift people up with my newer stories. It is important to empower yourself, but it is also important to empower others.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start writing? The biggest piece of advice that I have is to keep on writing. Sometimes, one reader may not like one of your books, but that does not mean that they will not like another one. This is a difficult industry to break into, and there is a lot of criticism that goes with it. However, it is important to accept the fact that other people have their own opinions and to keep your head up. If you keep writing, you might just write the masterpiece that you have always wanted.

FOLLOW NICOLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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Book Links:

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UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08GSWFRH1

FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B08GSWFRH1

DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08GSWFRH1

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08GSWFRH1

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08GSWFRH1


C. L. Schneider ~ Author Interview

We have a very special guest today, C.L. Schneider is the multi-award-winning author of the urban fantasy series, Nite Fire.

Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, Cindy Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape while she was still in high school, on a typewriter in her parent’s living room. While her main focus is adult epic and urban fantasy, she also pens the occasional thriller or post-apocalyptic story.

Though she has been writing all of her life, Magic-Price (the first installment in The Crown of Stones Trilogy) was her first published novel. With the completion of The Crown of Stones Trilogy, she is embarking on a new path with her multi-award-winning urban fantasy series, Nite Fire.

Check out a few of Cindy’s books below!

(Click on the image to order your copy)

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Saving Grace by D.M. Barr

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic.

But that’s not to say I haven’t wanted to…

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Would you like a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Saving Grace by D.M. Barr ~ Genre: Psychological Thriller

Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself – she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband’s scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?

With a cast of secondary characters whose challenges mirror Grace’s own, Saving Grace is, at it’s core, an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms.

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What inspired you to write this book? Saving Grace is about a woman who wonders if her husband plans to murder her for her inheritance once her rich father in Florida dies. My father lives in Florida and my husband has asked more than once about my expected inheritance. I started thinking, what if…

What can we expect from you in the future? My next book, just finished, is a contemporary romantic comedy about pursuing second chances.

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? I based my favorite character, Zev, on the Hasidic men I met at my last job. They always made me laugh and so Zev provides the much-needed comic relief in the book.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Saving Grace? The protagonist is Grace Rendell, a 45-year-old New Jersey wife and mother who is the only child of an ailing billionaire and has been treated for paranoia since she was six. Her husband is an advertising exec named Eliot who grew up poor and appears to be cheating on her. She has two sons and a father named Barrington who lives with his “chippie of the month” Caprice. Grace’s therapist is Emma Leighmann and the woman who helps her write her book is Andrea Lin, whose pen name is Lynn Andrews. Tom Druthers is the poisons expert who helps her and becomes a love interest.  Andrea’s brother “Hack” and his friends also play a big part in the novel.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Actually, I rewrote this book around ten times, so I guess what I liked most is when I was finally finished.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?  Once Grace goes off her meds, she comes to believe that once her father dies, her husband will kill her for her inheritance. So she decides to write a novel, with the main character in the same predicament, so she can subtly expose his plot to the world without destroying her life and her family’s life if in fact, her views are a result of her resurgent paranoia and are completely wrong 

How did you come up with the title of your first novel? As a Realtor, I specialized in Expired Listings. It seemed like a great title for a book where a serial killer was offing all the real estate agents in a small town.

Who designed your book covers? Each was designed by a different artist. Kim Killion worked with a photo and concept I selected for Expired Listings, and I had a second, less graphic cover designed by Syneca Featherstone. There are two covers for Slashing Mona Lisa, one designed by Carl Graves and a second by the artist at Beachwalk Press, and for my current novel, the cover was designed by David King, the inhouse designer for Black Rose Press, again using a photo and concept I chose.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? My first editor for Saving Grace was Elf Ahearn. If I could do it all over again, I would have listened to her suggestions from the start. In the end, I used them anyway, but it took a long time for me to accept her criticisms were right on.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? Prowritingaid.com is an invaluable tool.

If your book were made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Sandra Bullock would make a perfect Grace.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers? When you read the metaphors, if they seem odd or strained, remember that Grace experienced everything she knew of life from books. Also keep in mind that Saving Grace is an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms. To me, it’s about women who are forgotten by society after they’ve had their children and “served their purpose.”

How did you come up with name of this book? Not only is Saving Grace an expression, it is also a perfect description of the plot.

What is your favorite part of this book and why? I always love the funny scenes, so I love the scene that satirizes critique groups. I also love every scene with Zev, especially the one where he’s in Hack’s home and some bullies throw a note attached to a rock through the window and he holds it up to Hack and says, “I believe this is for you.”

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? A combination. There are parts of me in all my heroines: I was a Realtor like Dana Black, I was a reporter with weight issues like Camarin Torres, and like Grace Rendell, I’m a housewife and mother of a certain age who sometimes feels like no one sees me anymore.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?  My characters always do things that surprise me. In Expired Listings, I didn’t originally intend for Aidan Cummings to become a love interest but once Dana saw him, there is was. In Saving Grace, Zev is a character who came from nowhere.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. It’s a unique concept, the idea of a woman who couldn’t write a book to save her life, until she had to. Not that many books out there who weaponize literature.

Have you written any other books that are not published? No, happy to say everything I’ve written has been published, except my newest book which I hope to sell in the next few months.

Originally Hack’s story was much more elaborate and ran concurrently with Grace’s. There were elements I hope to include in a sequel.

Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?

I had the opportunity to interview Brad Parks and ask him how he was able to make Carter Ross so likeable. You can see the interview at www.author-groupie.com, where I interview authors with a new adult fiction book just out, or one that’s in pre-order.

I’m glad to be one of many hosts sharing information about Saving Grace by D.M. Barr.

First Second Coming by Jeff Pollak (giveaway)

Jeff Pollak, the author of First Second Coming and sequels to come, was raised in the Riverdale section of the Bronx by a single mom and two grandparents who lived eight floors up. After graduating from college in Buffalo, Jeff headed west to Los Angeles for law school and spent his entire legal career in and around civil litigation. Now retired, writing fiction is Jeff’s new passion.

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(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)

Would you like a chance to win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card, choice of Paperback or ebook of First Second Coming – 1 winner each! Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

First Second Coming (The New God Series Book 1) by Jeff Pollak ~ Genre: Supernatural Romantic Suspense

In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God’s interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. To earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces all mankind must do is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help, within sixty days. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.

REVIEWS:

“Jeff Pollak’s debut novel, First Second Coming, combines suspense, romance, and theology in an imaginative, unique adventure!”

            —Mark Moses, Actor (best known as Paul Young on Desperate Housewives and Herman “Duck” Phillips on Mad Men.)

“Wow! What an outstanding debut novel! Jeff mixes a wide genre to create this intriguing novel. Plenty of romance, action and some theology to keep things lively! Not a mix I’ve seen before but in the ratio he writes=perfect! A fab read. Looking forward to the next book!”

         — Becca Thompson, The Book Club

“An absolutely fascinating concept mixed with the perfect blend of action, romance and theology. Will humans choose to set aside their petty arguments and live peacefully, working to solve the world’s problems side by side, or will the planetary turnaround specialist assigned to Earth as the New God have to take the ultimate action to ensure the planet’s survival, even if that means human extinction? This book will grab you and keep you reading to the very last page. Can’t wait to see what comes next!”

       – Kristine Pfeffer Fox, Author

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Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?

Although First Second Coming is primarily intended as entertainment, the book’s message is about intolerance. Hopefully readers will pick that up. There are two sets of intolerant religious groups in this story. One demonstrates intolerance of other views in an aggressive manner. The other group exercises passive resistance. Examples of tolerance abound within the novel, but these two intolerant groups put mankind’s future at risk.    

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Because I came to writing fiction from a long career as a trial attorney, I often find my writing style lapse into the stiffer, more formal style that’s normal for writing such boring things as legal briefs, client reports and trial documents. When editing I’m on alert to this tendency, and fix the verbiage whenever I find it unless the character – such as God in First Second Coming – actually has a formal manner of speech. 

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

 First Second Coming is my debut novel, so by default it’s my favorite.   

If you had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?

That’s a very interesting question! On a whim a few years ago, I searched the internet to try to find actors bearing a resemblance to the two main characters in First Second Coming. I was unsuccessful in finding anyone close to my visualization of Ram Forrester. However, a British actress of half Norwegian, half Nigerian descent turned out to look so much like how I pictured Brendali Santamaria, who is Latina, that it was eerie. The actress, Hannah John-Kamen, has been in British TV shows, notable American ones such as Game of Thrones (as Omela), and films including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ready Player One and Tomb Raider. She has enough experience to at least audition for the lead role as Brendali. She’s the right age, and although she isn’t Latina she looks it. If she’s not interested or fails her audition, I would want a Latina actress in the role. 

When did you begin writing?

 I never pictured myself as a fiction writer until roughly 2014. That’s when I began to consider what I’d do with my time once I retired. The idea of trying my hand at fiction made sense. An avid reader, I always enjoyed the writing aspect of litigation, which is very writing-intensive. Of course, I had to learn the ropes of fiction, develop a suitable writing style and practice. First Second Coming took eight drafts, the first few rather amateurish, but that’s a phase we all have to go though. Fortunately, I improved.

How long did it take to complete your first book?

 It’s hard for me to answer this question. I wrote part-time from 2015 to 2019. Trials are all consuming, and I had several of them in this time period – four in 2018 alone. Each trial prevented me from writing any fiction for several weeks at a time. Occasional family obligations also took precedent over writing from time to time. So I can’t even estimate what the answer might be in terms of days or hours, but five years did pass while I worked at it.

Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?

No, but I am inspired to improve enough to become as good a writer as any of my favorites – David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks); Iain Pears (Arcadia); Haruki Murakami (1Q84); or Daniel Silva (The English Girl).

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Editing. I liken the writing process to sculpture. Michelangelo began the Pietà with a huge chunk of Carrara marble. He chiseled away at it until what was left became arguably the most impressive piece of sculpture that’s ever been carved. Writers start with a concept, nothing more. The first draft, equivalent to Michelangelo’s block of marble, is what we chip away at it until we’re left with our humble version of the Pietà, however distant that may be from a sculpted masterpiece. I enjoy hammering my story until it becomes as true, and as fully rendered, as I envisioned it in my imagined plotline.

Describe your latest book in 4 words.

 Suspense, romance, fantasy – blended.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

Although First Second Coming is primarily entertainment, the book’s message is about intolerance. Hopefully readers will pick that up. There are two sets of intolerant religious groups in this story. One demonstrates intolerance of other views in an aggressive manner. The other group exercises passive resistance. Examples of tolerance abound in this novel, but these two intolerant groups put mankind’s future at risk.     

The internet has plenty of information about all types of intolerance, but whether the information posted on any given website is accurate can often be questioned. Posts from universities or organizations dedicated specifically to one type of intolerance or another are more credible. (For example, religious organizations often deal with intolerance to their faithful.) Museums of intolerance, which exist in Los Angeles, New York City, El Paso, Albuquerque and other locations, are worth a visit. Simply seeking out people for respectful conversations, to learn from them and compare beliefs or opinions, is invaluable.  

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

9/11 was the inspiration for this book. My law firm hosted annual conferences at the World Trade Center each spring for our clients in the New York/New Jersey area. We were there in May, 2001, four months before the attack. I had clients in the building, had become acquainted to staff members in the WTC’s conference facility at the top of the building, and I grew up in New York City. As I watched the tragedy unfold, all these connections I had with the building brought to mind a random thought – that we need a new god trained as a planetary turnaround specialist.

Admittedly that’s an odd thought. I didn’t dwell on. But somehow the idea stuck with me, coming back to me once I decided to write fiction. A rudimentary plot, characters, the concept and theme spilled out. So I went with it, developing the story over until it became what’s now this book. 

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?  

This book is the first in a series in which Earth’s new God tackles our many global problems, one or two at a time. So the global issue subject tackled in First Second Coming, the religious violence behind 9/11, became a test of humanity, not a one-off concept. I’m satisfied with the book as a foundation for the future ones that will address other topics of global concern that need attention.

Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Sure – I’d be very, very pleased to have some! Seriously, I began to write this novel simply as a way to enjoy my retirement. People in my critique groups, or who had access to all or parts of the story, urged me to publish. I had to be talked into it and eventually gave in. Now that First Second Coming has been released, I hope it does connect with readers, and that they become fans who will read the sequels and spin-offs, too.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoy editing the most, believe it or not. I liken the writing process to sculpture. Michelangelo began the Pietà with a huge chunk of Carrara marble. He chiseled away at it until what was left became arguably the most impressive piece of sculpture that’s ever been carved. Writers start with a concept, nothing more. The first draft, equivalent to Michelangelo’s block of marble, is what we chip away at it until we’re left with our humble version of the Pietà, however distant that may be from a sculpted masterpiece. I enjoy hammering my story until it becomes as true, and as fully rendered, as I envisioned it in my imagined plotline.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

I’m working on two novels concurrently. One is the sequel to First Second Coming, which has a working title of Earth’s Peril. A spin-off, called The Recycling Center, is the second book. I intend to focus my writing on the New God Series for the foreseeable future, with the occasional spin-off if or when they pop up.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing fiction in 2015. Before that I’d written non-fiction for decades in the form of legal briefs, motions, trial documents, articles for legal publications, etc. Fiction requires a different writing style, and it took me a year or so to develop mine. I enjoy filling up a blank white screen with letters which form words that turn into sentences, paragraphs, chapters and, eventually, a book worth reading. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in First Second Coming?

Happy to oblige! I’ll do the three main characters for you.

Ram Forrester is a 38-year old atheist in 2027, the year First Second Coming takes place. He was the evening news anchor at KJCR-TV in L.A. until he was shot by mistake on Valentine’s Day. The shooter was aiming at his ex-wife and missed her. Ram’s doctors called his survival a medical miracle. While he was recovering in the ICU, Ram’s girlfriend of three years, Kate Chung, broke up with him. When Ram returned to the station as the host of the Ram Forrester Hour he’s a more mature man, ready to finally settle down with his “angel” – if only he can find her.

Brendali Santamaria is four years younger than Ram. She’s an extroverted bilingual Latina, a native of Southern California and a devout Catholic. Brendali’s spent ten years as a television news reporter in Veracruz, Mexico, hunting down and exposing narcotraficante corruption. However, when the drug lords put out an order to kill her and murder her boyfriend as well as her best friend, she has to flee. Bren feels guilty for living when she should have been the one to die. She’s also angry at being unable to execute her version of the Golden Rule – that revenge is best served cold. She meets Ram, becomes the co-host of his show and, before long, they’re truly (and literally) a match made in heaven.

Earth’s new, unnamed God takes over management of the planet from NTG – whom we know as the New Testament God and by other names. He’s a planetary turnaround specialist, sent here by Milky Way Galaxy, Inc., his and NTG’s employer. This god is a cross between a more sophisticated version of the Old Testament God and current day corporate turnaround artists, but with a more humanitarian streak he would strive to deny.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters from First Second Coming who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

Brendali’s been talking to me and narrating what’s taken place in the book since the early drafts of the story. We’ve become good friends although she wakes me up at night to pass on the latest twist in the story. Now that I’m working on the sequel she’s doing that again, but I don’t mind. I enjoy our interactions, so she’s my pick.

We’d start with lunch at Porto’s Bakery in Glendale, a Cuban restaurant well known to Angelinos. Their meals, pastries and cakes are superb. We’d lose the calories by hiking the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains trails that wind through Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon. 

To finish the day, Bren and I would attend a Gaby Moreno concert. A Guatemalan born singer/guitarist who lives in L.A, Gaby belts out her songs in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Bren and I consider her a favorite, so we’ll enjoy the concert regardless of whether Gaby’s playlist consists of Blues, Jazz, Soul or R&B selections. We’d invite Ram, too, though he’s more a rock ‘n roll guy.   

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Because I came to writing fiction from a long career as a trial attorney, my writing style sometimes lapses into a stiff, formal style that’s normal for writing such boring things as legal briefs, client reports and trial documents. When editing I stay alert to this tendency, and fix the verbiage where I find it unless the character – such as God in First Second Coming – has a formal manner of speech. 

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

I don’t actually own an Ipod, but some of the most played songs in my iTunes library are Copperhead Road by Steve Earle; Unintended by Muse; Come Unto Me by the Mavericks; Dreamer by the Lil’ Band O’ Gold; Lend a Hand by Jakob Dylan; King of El Paso by Boz Scaggs; Furr by Blitzen Trapper; Chocolate Jesus, a cover of Tom Waite’s song done by Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart; Quizas, Quizas, Quizas by Gabi Moreno and Killybegs by The Chieftains. I listen to a fairly broad range of musical genres.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

During the time I was writing First Second Coming, I was part of two critique groups. One was a three-person group, including me. None of us were published. The other group consisted of eight, several of whom were already published. As part of First Second Coming’s pre-publication process I sent my manuscript to four beta readers and one sensitivity reader, the latter to make sure Brendali, my Latina main character, was realistic and not in any way stereotyped or inaccurate.   

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading the newly released novel by David Mitchell, one of my favorite authors. It’s called Utopia Avenue. I’m about 25% through it at this point and it’s very enjoyable, though so far only occasionally up to his usual “relentlessly brilliant” writing style. The quoted phrase belongs to Ursula K. Le Guin, herself a brilliant writer.

How did you start your writing career?

There comes a time in life when you look ahead to mull over what you’ll do in your free time during retirement. That time came for me in 2014. Because litigation is a very writing intensive profession, and I enjoyed the writing aspect of it, I concluded that doing something related to the written word would fit me well. And since I’m an avid reader, the idea of trying my hand at writing fiction made sense, too. I embarked on a self-imposed crash course to learn the craft by attending writers’ conferences, scouring the internet for online websites, and becoming friendly with writers and a few instructors I met at the conferences. I also bought books such as Stephen King’s On Writing and pored through them.  

Tell us about your next release

 I’m working on two novels concurrently. One is the sequel to First Second Coming, which has a working title of Earth’s Peril. A spin-off called The Recycling Center is the second book. Earth’s Peril is probably the next release, but I’m in the early stages of both books so that could change.

I’m glad to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about First Second Coming by Jeff Pollak.

Carissa Andrews ~ Author Interview

We have a very special guest today, Carissa Andrews is an internationally bestselling author and she is here today to talk about her newest series, The Windhaven Witches.

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Check out a few of Carissa’s books below!

(Click on the image to order your copy)

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Follow her on Social Media here:


Carissa Andrews is an internationally bestselling author from central Minnesota who writes a combination of science fiction and urban fantasy. Her plans for this year include launching the YA/NA paranormal/supernatural thriller series: The Windhaven Witches in the fall of 2020. She keeps sane by chilling with her husband and five kids, playing with art in its various forms, and seeking out life’s mysteries. You can learn more about Carissa and her books by visiting her website:

www.carrissaandrews.com.


The Bourbon Country Series by Chris Bostic (giveaway)

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Chris Bostic is the author of exciting adventure thrillers. From his home in suburban St. Louis, he turns family vacations and Boy Scout trips into gripping survival novels. The Northwoods Trilogy was his first series, with the setting chosen thanks to a BSA High Adventure trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Then came his SciFi series The Savage Horde, as well as a trio of standalone novels. He’s now rolled out a new series set in the Smoky Mountains.

Chris continues to build on his brand of epic adventure books. This year featured a three book set – The Bushwhackers Series – set in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The books are: Prepper Mountain, Shadow Warriors, and Jailbreak.

Then came another three book set, The Bourbon Country Series, to close out the year. Whiskey Thief, Kentucky Hug, and Barrel Strength mark a departure from teen fiction into a mature audience blend of psychological thriller and romantic suspense.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)

Would you like a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Whiskey Thief (The Bourbon Country Series Book 1) by Chris Bostic ~ Genre: Psychological Thriller, Romantic Suspense

When their Kentucky bourbon tour takes a turn for the worse, two engaged couples join up with strangers to seek shelter in the ruins of an old distillery. Grace encounters more than abandoned spirits on the decaying property, bringing her semi-comfortable world crashing down.

Tensions pull at the group, splintering the couples into teams. Only it’s hard for Grace to know what side to be on when bonds are tested, and opposites no longer attract. Questions abound. Who really are the strangers they paired up with? Should she break convenient bonds for a risky one? Then again, does it even matter if they don’t make it out alive?

Please be advised – The Bourbon Country Series features fast-paced adult psychological thrillers where sexual assault, PTSD, self-blame, and functional alcoholism combine to form a potent blend. Recommended for mature audiences, ages 18+

Goodreads * Amazon

Kentucky Hug (The Bourbon Country Series Book 2)

It’s been six long months since Grace’s world turned upside down. She unexpectedly finds herself back in bourbon country with Vince, dredging up memories barely concealed. Anxiety builds when a mysterious stranger shadows them, but it’s her own indecisiveness that first leads to misadventure.

Just like a flight of unfamiliar bourbons, Grace can only wonder if each of her trials will unleash a rot gut burn or a warm Kentucky Hug. More likely a mixture of both.

Please be advised – The Bourbon Country Series features fast-paced adult psychological thrillers where sexual assault, PTSD, self-blame, and functional alcoholism combine to form a potent blend. Recommended for mature audiences, ages 18+

Goodreads * Amazon

Barrel Strength (The Bourbon Country Series Book 3)

After another nine solid months, things couldn’t be going much better for Grace. Life has settled into a comfortable routine. So, of course, she’s headed back to bourbon country with Vince. Maybe not the destination wedding she’d been dreaming about more recently, but the venue couldn’t be any more perfect. Or so they thought.

Wedding day should be a joyous occasion for the couple, but nothing is ever easy for them—especially when a manhunt locks down the venue and spirits flow from sleeping barrels.

Please be advised – The Bourbon Country Series features fast-paced adult psychological thrillers where sexual assault, PTSD, self-blame, and functional alcoholism combine to form a potent blend. Recommended for mature audiences, ages 18+

Goodreads * Amazon

How long have you been writing?

Over 8 years now.  I am up to 18 published books, all self-published.  Five of those books were originally Indie published, but I have the rights back to all of them now.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

I generally try to flesh out every character all the way down to names and characteristics before I am through the first chapter.  Sometimes they change a little bit as the story progresses, but I like to have an idea of quirks, flaws, appearance, etc… ready to go on page one.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

Most all of my books are based on places I have been—often as family vacations. I’m the planning type of vacationer, so I spend hours on the ‘things to do’ part of a vacation. That all comes in handy when it’s time to write.

Do you see writing as a career?

Not for me. I wish, but not yet. After 18 books it feels a whole lot less like a hobby, but it’s just not to where I can support a family. Maybe a retirement job. I can definitely see that.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I used to read a whole lot more, but after I started writing I found myself not wanting to spend the time reading when I could be working on my own books.  I’ve always been a fan of military history, dystopian societies, and the occasional SciFi.  But less SciFi these days. That was more of a childhood thing.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I tend to like background noise.  My music choice varies with the scenes I write too, with harder rock music when I get into some conflict scenes.  It’s funny, but sometimes I find song lyrics blended into my rough drafts. It’s some kind of weird subliminal thing I do.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I have never worked on more than one book at a time. I don’t know how well I could do two. I get in the writing zone and obsessed with completion, so I don’t know that I could focus on one book if I was trying to wrap up another. About the only thing I will do is write down is ideas for other books while I’m working on a different one.

Pen or type writer or computer?

Definitely computer.  Sometimes I will put some notes on my phone if an idea strikes me while I am out, but I do 100% of my writing in Microsoft Word on my laptop.  I don’t even pencil down notes if I can avoid it.

A day in the life of the author?

I only write about half the months out of a year, or less. I won’t start a new book unless I know I have at least a couple weeks of free time to where I can write from start to finish on a draft.  When writing, weekend days look a lot like: wake up early, write until breakfast, work in a few hours of writing time in the am and pm around chores and family fun time, then several hours later in the evening.  Weekdays meaning writing for an hour on lunch break, and then a few more hours that evening after supper.

Describe your writing style.

Pretty linear. I’m not big on jumping from one scene to somewhere totally different. I like to take a small group of characters and develop them through the challenges they encounter. Typically it’s a normal day that turns into a real adventure. Most of my books span the events of a single day, maybe two.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

I like to start writing with a general idea where I’d like to end up. I’ve tried to outline stories, but it hasn’t always worked out the best for me.  Once I had three pages of what I thought were great notes.  I was so sure it had the makings of a great story, but by the time I started writing I was through all the notes by about page 35.  Needless to say, the story took off and evolved from there. Now I outline a few chapters ahead, writing down ideas and scenes for what could happen, then filling in the details.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’ve been told that I’m actually rather good at it.  I don’t know how exactly, but several of my recent books have a female lead, and I’ve not once had a negative reaction. In fact, several reviewers have commented that they would never know it was written by a man.  Not sure what that says about me….

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About two months or less of actual writing/editing time.  I try not to start anything until I can devote enough time to finish the draft.  So I tend to rough it the whole story in 10-20 days (generally 2 weekends and the nights in between).  Then I take a little time off.  Editing is another full week, or more if it needs extra work. Then another week of editing and proofreading after that.

I’m happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information about the Bourbon Country Series by Chris Bostic.

Alex Pearl ~ Author Interview

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Pearl, author of The Chair Man and Sleeping with the Blackbirds!

Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020.

Alex lives in NW London with his wife and two children who are far smarter than their old man.

He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.

Let’s start by finding out a little bit about you…

  1. What is your name and do you write under a pen name?  My name is Alex Pearl, and I was very tempted to write under the pen name Bertram Bolzwinick, which was the name of my grandfather who died before I was born. He was from Russia or Poland; I’m not sure which. Sadly, when he arrived on these shores he changed his name by deed poll to Bertram Davis, which doesn’t have the same cachet. However, having toyed with the idea, I finally decide to stick with my own name simply because everyone I’m linked to online knows me as Alex Pearl.
  2. Where do you call home? I live in NW London and I have always lived in London. The area I live in is known as Hampstead Garden Suburb, which was set up in 1906 as part of the garden suburb movement. And we are very close to a large heathland known as Hampstead Heath.
  3. Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do? I have retired from work now. I used to be an advertising copywriter, so writing has been something I did professionally for around 35 years. 
  4. What is your family like? It’s getting quieter as both our children have now flown the nest. My wife, unfortunately, became a tetraplegic seven years ago when she was very suddenly diagnosed with a spinal tumor, which was impossible to remove. So she now relies on a power chair, but it doesn’t stop her from working and driving a car. She does a lot of work for organizations that assist those with physical and mental disabilities.
  5. If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like? I was born in Wanstead, east London, which used to be Winston Churchill’s constituency. and I was brought up in an area called Ilford. Ilford is a large sprawling suburban conurbation on the eastern outskirts of Greater London. Its most attractive feature is a well-tended park, Valentines Park
  6. Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing? I used to paint large abstract compositions on glass, but I haven’t done that for years. Other than writing, I spend time reading, gardening, cooking and all the household chores. Naturally, my wife can’t do too much in terms of physical work from her wheelchair.
  7. What is your greatest dream? Ooh. I suppose that would be winning some ludicrous literary prize. The Pulitzer perhaps or the Booker. I think I’d settle for the Booker. That would be pretty cool. And I could make a nonchalant acceptance speech to the effect that I had come to the conclusion that the judges had clearly lost their minds or their glasses, or both as they had clearly made some kind of mistake as there were so many more deserving winners in the room.
  8. What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you? I wish I could play the piano very well. I just think it would be a wonderful gift to have. My son learnt as a child and got up to Grade 8 very quickly while he was at primary school. He’s very good at math, which clearly helps. There is definitely a correlation between music and math. I am terrible at math and I know instinctively that I would never make the grade as a pianist. so I have never tried.
  9. Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love? Yes. Her name was Helen Lewis. She was the first girl that ever made me go weak at the knees. We were both five years of age at the time. And I don’t think I ever had the courage to say a single word to her.
  10. What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? Getting locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, I didn’t forego turkey and Christmas pudding as my father was able to contact the police. This was long before mobile phones had been invented. And within a couple of hours, I was freed from my temporary prison. It was, however, a fairly frightening experience. and one I wouldn’t recommend. 
  11. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing? There have been several people. Going back to my school days, I had a very unusual and inspiring English teacher by the name of Clive Lawton. He was very charismatic and had an affinity with kids to the extent that he really was on our wavelength. He’d do the most extraordinary things and turn everything on its head. On one occasion he announced that instead of him marking our essays he was going to ask us to mark his, and then handed out old essays he’d written in the past. He’d often tell us that the syllabus was boring and that we were going to ignore it and have a serious discussion about something fairly contentious like advertising and the blatant use of sexual imagery. The point of his lessons was to make us think and to convey to us the power of words. And by teaching in this wholly unconventional and radical manner, he not only gained the attention of every single child in that classroom. He also instilled a love of words and ideas. And as a result, every child in my class passed their O level exams, and nobody received anything less than a B grade.                                                                                                                                                                Later on, when I started working as an advertising copywriter, my Creative Director, a man by the name of Ken Mullen was also influential. Ken was and still is a brilliant writer. He had two degrees in English Literature from Oxford University and is the only English advertising copywriter to have had his work quoted in the Oxford Book of Modern quotations. These included two headlines he had penned for The Times newspaper when he was working for Leo Burnett – ‘Our sages know their onions.’  And ‘No pomp. Just circumstance.’ He encouraged his entire creative department to immerse themselves in literature, cinema and the arts in general. But perhaps, more importantly, he wore his learning lightly and was incredibly funny and approachable. He was, in short, the best boss you could ever hope for.
  12. What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not? I’m not sure that I ever really had a dream when I was growing up. Not one that I can readily remember at any rate. I never really knew what I wanted to do when I left school. I was never particularly studious and I wasn’t heading for university. But I wasn’t bad at art, so at the very last minute I applied to go to art college, and it was here that I became interested in creative advertising and teamed up with a good friend at college. And together we pestered a lot of people in the business with a portfolio of our ideas, and eventually, someone relented and gave us a job. So in answer to your original question, I guess I achieved my goal, which was a kind of dream I suppose.
  13. Who is your role model? I think my father was a pretty good role model. He was an incredibly good father and grandfather. And was very community-minded. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help someone else; even a complete stranger. He was an incredibly generous, warm-hearted man and I miss him.
  14. What is your greatest fear? Death. Woody Allen was once asked if he liked the idea of becoming immortal through his writing and he replied that he’d prefer to become immortal through not dying. I’m with him on that one.
  15. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books? Call me old fashioned, but I’m afraid books, either hardbacks or paperbacks win hands down. There’s nothing quite like having a book in your hands.
  16. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it? Yes. It was the first book I ever read as a child. ‘Stig of the Dump’ by Clive King. I reread it recently out of interest – just to see if I still thought it was a terrific children’s book. And happily, I can report that it is every bit as good as I thought it was as a young child. It’s charmingly written, rather clever, and very touching.
  17. What is your opinion of novellas? I see no massive difference really between a short story, novella, and full-length novel. They all have to be compelling. Obviously, with the shorter form, the writing has to be more economical and concise. But that in itself is an art form, and many believe that mastering the short story is more skillful than the full-blown novel. I’m not sure that I necessarily agree with that. I think it’s difficult to generalize. In Japan, of course, there is a very great tradition for writing short stories and there are authors who write nothing more. But at the end of the day, a good story that is well written is a good story, whether it’s in long or short form.
  18. Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? Ooh, that’s a good question. As someone who studied graphic design, I’m sure there should be a book cover that I was drawn to, but interestingly, there isn’t one I can think of. In fact, so many really good books seem to have such anodyne and forgettable covers, which is a shame. 
  19. What is your favorite film based on a book? There are two films that immediately spring to mind that succeed in capturing the essence of a book. And that’s something that’s really hard to do with the medium of film, because you simply don’t have the same enormous scope of a book and you can’t appeal to the imagination; and, of course, you have to leave a huge amount out. The first film that for me comes close is ‘To kill a Mockingbird’ the film adaptation of the book by Harper Lee that stars Gregory Peck in the lead part of Atticus Finch. It’s faithful to the book and does a near-perfect job of recreating its characters. And the other film is ‘Schindler’s List’, the Spielberg film adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s book that was originally titled ‘Schindler’s Ark’, which is arguably a better title. Again, the film is a pretty faithful adaptation of the book, but is also filmed in a highly realistic way by using hand-held cameras and adopting a reportage style of shooting that is very matter of fact and a million miles away from Hollywood. Both films did well at the Oscars, winning among other things ‘Best Adapted Screenplay.’  
  20. What is your favorite book genre at the moment? I don’t really have one. But I tend to read literary, historical, and thrillers.
  21. What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why? ‘Beneath a Scarlet Sky’ by Mark Sullivan is a book I’ve just bought because it has received a torrent of rave reviews and it sounds like a great read. My cousin also recommended it and he has impeccable taste, so it must be pretty special. It’s also based on a true story set in Italy during the war. 
  22. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format? I’ve just finished reading ‘The Last Lemming’ by my old friend Chris Chalmers who, like me, also used to be an advertising copywriter. That’s how we met. Chris is a very talented writer. This is his fifth book; they’ve all been magnificent. ‘The Last Lemming’ is an engaging yarn that combines mystery, humour and a dash of romance to great effect. In Mr. Chalmers’ inimitable style, we are introduced to the lives of two disparate central characters: in the form of TV naturalist, Prof Leo Saunders and Claire Webster, a young Personal Trainer with aspirations to become an investigative journalist. There are two distinct threads to the narrative: one set in the mid-1980s and the other in the present-day narrated by our amateur female journalist. The plot involves Saunders admitting on Youtube just before dying that his one claim to fame – the discovery of the Potley Hill lemming – was in fact a hoax and that a certain advertising luminary had ‘blood on his hands.’ While the stunt is eventually written off as nothing more than unreliable ramblings of a sick man, Webster decides to investigate and use her findings for her dissertation on her journalism course. This entertaining and deftly plotted tale involves a cast of colourful characters including some of the furry variety. It’s a skilfully woven yarn with some lovely descriptive passages that establish time and place. And in the best tradition, there are, of course, dead bodies
  23. If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why? Ooh blimey. Well, I once had the pleasure of sitting next to the novelist, Beryl Bainbridge at an advertising awards dinner and I found her both delightful and fascinating, and I love her books, so I wouldn’t mind inviting her. I reckon Stephen Fry would be good value. And I’ve always admired and really liked Archbishop Desmund Tutu. And to add the cherry to the icing I’d invite Mr. Barak Obama, one of America’s most articulate Presidents. I think that would be one hell of a dinner party. In fact, I don’t suppose I’d ger around to eating very much in such esteemed company. 

Let’s shift somewhat and talk about your latest story.

  1. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? The title of my latest book is ‘The Chair Man‘, which is a thriller. Here’s a 20-word summation: Having survived a terrorist attack, Michael is now a wheelchair user seeking retribution online – but will become a sitting target.
  2. Is the above book part of a series? That is a distinct possibility. Several people have said that they would love to read a sequel. And though the book has a natural conclusion, there is certainly another story that can be woven from the book’s remnants; and it’s something I’m working on. But I say this a lot to people, the plotting of a book is something I find particularly challenging and difficult. And I can’t start writing a book without having the synopsis mapped out. It can and will evolve as I write it, but without this road map, I will just get hopelessly lost. 
  3. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? That’s a very good question and I’m pleased you asked me that because I’m fortunate to have a very good friend named John Mac who is a brilliant advertising photographer and director. And he kindly photographed and designed the covers to both my books. In fact, for ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ he shot a stunningly beautiful trailer, too. You can watch it here. We were both particularly pleased with the cover for ‘The Chair Man’. Back in 1998, John had been commissioned by the film director Guy Ritchie to produce the film poster for his film ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’. And for my cover, John has used a similar approach by creating a very strong silhouette against a stark white background with quite distressed typography. It is very distinctive and feels absolutely right for the book. 
  4. Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? No. I generally can’t work that effectively with music on. I need silence. Music is just too distracting. It was the same when I worked at an advertising agency. We needed our own quiet space to think. That said, there are several music references in ‘The Chair Man’ The title pages to part one and part two are the titles of songs by Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello from 2005. And one of the characters in the book loves the classical piano playing of Glenn Gould – particularly bach’s Golberg Variations.   
  5. How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ as a title came to me fairly early on, and I just liked it from the outset. It has a certain ring to it that sounds lyrical. ‘The Chair Man’ is the moniker that the terrorists use to describe the book’s protagonist Michael Hollinghurst, so I thought it would make a good title – particularly against a graphic book cover.
  6. Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it? I have a book trailer for my first book ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, which was shot by my good friend John Mac and edited, dubbed, graded and animated by Hogarth Worldwide. You can watch it on Youtube here.
  7. In your latest novel, who is the lead character, and can you tell us a little about him/her? Michael Hollinghurst is the lead character. He’s a very successful corporate lawyer. His marriage to his wife is beginning to fall apart and eventually does when Michael becomes the victim of a terrorist attack that leaves him in a wheelchair. His two kids who are in their mid to late 20s choose to live with him, and you get a sense that he is a good father who cares deeply for his two children. And they likewise are very close to him. Following a lengthy stay in rehab following his ordeal, Michael suffers from feelings of guilt having survived the blast when everyone else in his carriage didn’t. He finds it difficult to come to terms with his predicament and his anger is channeled into a plan for retribution.
  8. What are your character’s greatest strengths? His greatest strengths are his warmth and compassion, not to mention his intelligence and his generosity. 
  9. And what are his/her greatest weaknesses? His greatest weakness is his complete and utter inability to forgive and forget. When he makes a decision he is like a dog with a bone. He simply won’t let go of it.
  10. What are some of his/her favorite foods? He likes fish and is partial to wine, particularly Spanish Rioja.
  11. What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has? Despite his anger and bitterness towards the perpetrators of the terrorist attack, he is fairly stoical and pretty brave about his own position. Part of him feels pangs of guilt for surviving, and these feelings drive him to feel a moral obligation to act on behalf of those who were killed. So he is brave, stoical and determined. Positive traits that he almost certainly doesn’t recognize in himself.
  12. Will readers like or dislike this character, and why? Readers have mixed feelings about Michael. Some like him and admire his close relationship with his kids. They also seem to sympathize with his obsessive need for retribution. Other readers aren’t so sympathetic. They see him as a rich white arrogant man who is prepared to put his family’s lives at risk just to seek revenge. They see him as a reckless individual who hasn’t tried to even think through the ramifications of his actions. And some also think that the devious way in which he gets his neighbor’s autistic son to help him hack into an East London mosque is really manipulative and morally wrong.
  13. What first gave you the idea for your latest book? The germ of the idea sprang from my wife’s predicament. She became ill seven years ago with a spinal tumor and ended up in a wheelchair. She is, however a very strong and resilient individual and doesn’t let her predicament stop her doing what she wants, within reason. So naturally, I know a fair bit about spinal injuries and wheelchairs, and I thought it would be a good idea to develop a character that had survived a terror attack and ends up in a wheelchair. But like my wife, I didn’t want my protagonist to roll over and lead a quiet life. I wanted him to go a bit crazy and actively go after other terrorists by using his wits and, of course, the internet.

Let’s talk now about your writing process.

  1. What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter? As far as style is concerned, I think I’m a bit of a chameleon. As an advertising copywriter, I’m used to adopting different tones of voice to address different audiences. I think it’s the same when it comes to writing books. My first book for children, young adults and parents was deliberately written in an old-fashioned, whimsical style redolent of authors like Clive King and Roald Dhal. When it came to writing ‘The Chair Man’ though, I adopted a crisp modern unfussy style of writing that felt right for the subject matter. When it comes to my approach to writing, I’m most certainly a plotter. I need a road map to see where I’m going. The story can evolve as I write it, but I have to have very clear directions and know where the thing is heading. So before writing the first chapter, I have to have a fairly detailed synopsis typed out; and the ending is absolutely crucial. And I’m very pleased that the endings to both of my books are I think unexpected and satisfying full stops.
  2. Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time? Proofreading assistance is something I will certainly invest in next time around. No matter how many times you go through your manuscript, there will always be errors you miss. And it isn’t just indie authors that have this problem. I see typos in mainstream publications by the big publishing houses that a whole team of editors and proofreaders have missed.
  3. Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company? I’m an indie author. I publish through Amazon (print on demand and ebooks) and Smashwords for all the other e-platforms.
  4. If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? I tried approaching literary agents through the traditional channels but haven’t yet received anything other than polite rejection letters several months after my submissions. So the next best thing is to self-publish. 
  5. What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? “Read, read, read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” William Faulkner
  6. What advice would you give someone who wants to start writing?  Formulate a story in your head; write it down as a synopsis; once you are happy with it, start writing your book; enjoy the journey.
  7. Where can your readers follow you? WEBSITE http://alex-pearl.net  BLOG http://rhubarbrabbit.blogspot.com FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/The-Chair-Man-103009131263558/?modal=admin_todo_tour TWITTER https://twitter.com/AlexBPearl    GOODREADS     https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2842442.Alex_Pearl             AMAZON https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alex-Pearl/e/B00AR0T3QA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result. Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators. Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target. 


Eleven-year-old schoolboy, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him little in the way of love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his suburban garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend.

As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown completely off course – and as a result the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down. While Harry has a close encounter with God, Roy embarks on a voyage of discovery that draws in and impacts on everyone around him, including the local police, his headmaster and the national media. Where will it all end, and will life ever be quite the same for Roy Nuttersley? 


(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)


The Dana Mudler Suspense Series by N. Gray (giveaway)

N Gray is a South African author living in Cape Town. During the day, she is a spreadsheet wizard, creating dashboards, and tables with trending analysis in search of any anomalies. (Yes, she still has a day job). At night, she types on her curved keyboard creating fictional characters that some may love, and others you want to kill yourself. And for fun, she goes to the beach with her daughter and hubby, or take the fur babies for a walk.

She writes in multiple genres; her first three books are collections of short stories ranging from light horror to paranormal and a thriller. 

​In 2019, she released her first full-length novel, Ulysses Exposed, centering around Blaire Thorne, an assassin with amnesia who hunts and kills the monsters in Sterling Meadow. 

​In 2020, she joined other USA Today Bestselling authors to produce the Notorious Minds Boxset. Her contribution, Nightcrawler, is exclusive to this boxset and is the prequel to her Dana Mulder thriller series.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)

Would you like a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Deadly Pattern (The Dana Mulder Suspense Series Book 1) by N Gray ~ Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Deadly Patterns reveal disturbing truths. 

My name is Dana, I’m a private investigator and hired to find a missing woman. Thinking it would be a straightforward case like all my others, instead, I’m thrust into a web of kidnappings, deceit, and murder. 

The investigation leads me to a prominent doctor who abducts his patients after their surgery, but all the evidence is circumstantial. With the help of my detective brother and his partner, we discover more bodies and link cold cases where we establish a similar MO. 

During the investigation, the man who left me for dead is back and wants more. 

Can I solve the mystery before we find another body, and before I become the target of a savage maniac intent on making me his?

A fast-paced suspense thriller with unforgettable characters and spine-chilling suspense, DEADLY PATTERN is book #1 in a gripping new series that will leave you turning pages late into the night.

**Only .99 cents!!**

Goodreads * Amazon


Devil Mountain (The Dana Mulder Suspense Series Book 2)

Devil Mountain reveals hidden secrets, suspicion, and murder.

I’m asked to assist in the search for Johnny’s sister only to discover she’s dead and her two daughters are missing. To make matters worse, I unearth the remains of someone connected to the man hunting me down.

Can I solve the murder before Travis strikes again, or will he finally get what he wants?

A fast-paced suspense thriller with unforgettable characters and spine-chilling suspense, DEVIL MOUNTAIN is book #2 in a gripping new series that will leave you turning pages late into the night.

**Only .99 cents!!**

Goodreads * Amazon


Chasing Evil (The Dana Mulder Suspense Series Book 3)

Travis is bent on keeping me as his trophy, but the tables have turned and I’m hunting him.

Travis is still after me. His cat and mouse game will never end until one of us is dead. All I know is it’s time to take my life back.

Which of us will survive? 

A fast-paced suspense thriller with unforgettable characters and spine-chilling suspense, CHASING EVIL is book #3 in a gripping new series that will leave you turning pages late into the night.

**Only .99 cents!!**

Goodreads * Amazon


Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

Since I was little, I’ve always loved writing. I wrote my first short story when I was eight or nine on my mom’s typewriter and always wanted to do more with creative writing. Then with most of us, life happened, and I had to work, and life got busy. I hadn’t written in a long time, but it was always at the back of my mind. When I read it was possible to self-publish, I knew I had to do this or regret it for the rest of my life. In 2015 I had more time on my hands and started writing short stories again. In 2017, I self-published my first book and I haven’t looked back since. I still have a day job, I’m an analyst, and I’m aiming to become a full-time writer.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

            I have a wicked sense of humor that I try to add to my books, along with little Easter eggs.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

            I’m from South Africa and stayed in Chicago for six weeks which was quite a big deal back then. I also won a Star Award at my previous company and I travelled to Dubai – the best part was going to the Abu Dhabi Ferrari World.

What are some of your pet peeves?

            Slow drivers

Where were you born/grew up at?

            Johannesburg, South Africa. I love the sea and we moved to Cape Town in 2017—I need my walks on the beach.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

            With my daughter and hubby

Who is your hero and why?

            My mom, she’s no longer around but she loved to read and got me hooked. And I miss her every day.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

            A chilled one who hates conflict, and people who hurt animals and others.

What are you passionate about these days?

            My writing—boring I know but I’ve taken it more seriously this last year and want to get my bookie-babies out there.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

            A walk on the beach, Netflix, or something with my daughter.

How to find time to write as a parent?

            It’s difficult, but I get up really early to do some marketing and write before work starts. Now that the world has gone bonkers, I work from home which cuts travel time and that gives me extra hours to write.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

            Disciplined, dedicated, not too serious.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

            Only after I published my Urban Fantasy series. Before then it didn’t feel real, but now it does—and people are buying my books (love you, guys).

Do you have a favorite movie?

            Silence of the Lambs

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

            Definitely my Blaire Thorne books.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

            None yet, only a retreat to my office (with the door closed)

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

            Black panther


Kristen Collins ~ Author Interview

We have a very special guest today, Kristen Collins is the author of Monsters Under the Bed!

Check out a COUPLE of KRISTEN’s books below!

(Click on the image to order your copy)

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.)

For a complete list of Kristen’s books, follow the AMAZON link below!

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Follow him on Social Media here:


Author Kristen Collins is a Native Texan. She is a part-time working mother/housewife, as well as a Lupus Warrior. 

Thanks to the encouragement of her friends and family, she found a passion in writing paranormal romance books. 

She likes to explore new types of characters such as Sandmen and Boogeymen.

Angels are also a part of her obsession; she will sit on the computer doing extensive research on both Sandmen and Angels trying to get her facts straight when writing.

She also creates Art Journals that can be cross generational from thirteen to sixty years younger. Her goal with the art journals is to reach people who need a little extra feel good in their lives.

When the Queen of the Sandmen, Ana, decrees that she will give teddy bears magic through the power of their golden Sandman dust and life is sustained through the belief of a child, the only purpose is to protect the children from nightmares, or rather the monsters under the bed. The Boogeymen who were defeated long ago are gone but their creatures did not die off with their masters.

The balance of good and evil has to be maintained.A supernatural orphan, Sharon, and her faithful pitbull dog, Lieutenant Twinkleton, catch the attention of Queen Ana when she goes to fulfill her part of the decree. Unsure of the little orphan child’s abilities, she gives special orders to the little girl’s only toy: a teddy bear named Sir Snugglestiltskin.Unknown to Queen Ana, there’s more to Sharon than what her eyes can see and these creatures are hungry to get their hands on the little girl.


Stacy Kingsley ~ Author Interview

We have a very special guest today, Stacy Kingsley author of the zombie series DO ZOMBIES WIN.

Check out the Do Zombies Win? series below!

(Click on the image to order your copy)

Check out our interview on YouTube:

Follow her on Social Media here: